Baler ignites grassy blaze

Hot and windy conditions saw two fires break out as contractors baled hay in local paddocks on Tuesday. The first, pictured, saw up to 80 rolls of hay destroyed at Milangil.

Twenty hectares of land and up to 80 round bales of hay were destroyed in a fast moving grass fire at Milangil, north of Camperdown on Tuesday.

CFA Region 6 operations manager Dean Manson said a hay baler ignited the blaze.

“Because the grass had been cut and was really dry, it didn’t take long for the fire to spread in the prevailing breeze,” he said.

“The cut grass fed the fire, which then ignited the bales in its path that had already been rolled.

“Sixty to eighty round bales were destroyed along with the baler.”

Ten units from eight district brigades attended the blaze, which started at about 1.30pm on a Milangil Estate Road farming property.

It took about an hour to get the blaze under control.

“Neighbouring farmers with tractors arrived on scene to assist with breaking up the bales so they could be wet down,” Mr Manson said.

“CFA members remained on the scene into the early evening and attended again on Wednesday as rolled bales tend to burn for a long time.”

Ten units from eight fire brigades worked into the evening to douse a blaze on Milangil Estate Road which burnt 20 hectares of land and up to 80 rolls of hay.

A similar but smaller fire also occurred on a Wire Lane property, immediately east of Camperdown at about 4.50pm.

Weerite CFA member Mark Boyd said four units attended from Camperdown, Tesbury, Weerite and Noorat.

“We presume the fire started from a hay baler that was operating in the paddock at the time, even though there is no damage to the baler,” he said.

About one acre (almost half a hectare) of grass and three round bales were burnt.

“It was a very quick response from the CFA units because a couple of them were already on the road, having refilled after attending the Milangil fire,” Mr Boyd said.

“The farmer did have an extinguisher with him, which he did use.”

A baler is thought to have ignited a late afternoon fire which burned out half a hectare of land and several hay rolls on a Wire Lane property, east of Camperdown.

Mr Manson said the two fires highlighted how tinder dry the countryside was, particularly north of the Princes Highway.

“We are moving into our summer fire danger period now,” he said.

“Sixty hectares of land was burnt at Carlisle River and 40 hectares near Ballarat in the first week of December, which is a stark indicator of just how dry it is.

“We advise landowners not to be complacent – if we don’t get onto the fires quickly, they will run and spread very quickly.”

Hay baling contractors were also urged to ensure their machinery was in optimal condition.

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