Gabrielle Duykers, Naracoorte Community News
More than 7000 hectares of land has been burnt and about 6000 livestock lost in the aftermath of a car fire that lost control on New Year’s Eve.
The inferno was sparked when a vehicle caught fire and set grass alight in Wrattonbully at around 1.30pm on Friday, December 31.
A SAPOL spokesperson said the driver noticed the car overheating while driving and pulled over on the side of the road to exit the vehicle before it burst into flames.
The blaze quickly spread to nearby grassland and travelled east across the Victorian border to Poolaijelo, south west of Edenhope.
Emergency warnings were at watch and act level with residents of Langkoop, Poolajielo and Powers Creek advised to leave.
More than 100 firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze, which was contained by the afternoon of January 2, 2022, and declared under control on 4 January 2022.
The fire impacted 24 rural properties, and estimated stock losses are 6672 sheep and 19 cattle.
While no homes were lost, the fire claimed eight sheds and eight farming vehicles.
More than 200-kilometres of fencing was also damaged or lost.
Agriculture Victoria staff are currently working with property owners to support them in the management of their losses and general fire recovery.
“Agriculture Victoria’s field teams continue to be on the ground in the West Wimmera conducting assessments on damage to farms and stock losses,” a spokesperson said.
“In addition, we are working with farmers to manage animal welfare issues on fire-affected properties.”
Agriculture Victoria said it was providing support in the way of animal health needs, fencing repairs, flock rebuilding, stock containment areas, pasture recovery, feed budgeting and nutrition, as well as referrals to supporting agencies for financial advice.
Wildlife Officers were deployed to the fire-affected area to assess the impact on wildlife species such as the Red-tailed Black Cockatoos, Eastern Grey Kangaroos, Wedge-tailed Eagles, emus and wallabies.
Grampians deputy chief fire officer Tony English said some old native forest, known for housing the rare breed of red-tails, was affected in the blaze.
“The Red-tailed Black Cockatoo habitat has been affected and the post-fire recovery program will aim to assess the scale of this impact and identify any steps we can take to mitigate the effects this may have on the species,” Mr English said.
“The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning will work as part of the National Recovery Team for the South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoo to make assessments for any long-term recovery efforts that may be required as a result of the fire.”
A small number of injured kangaroos also had to be euthanised upon assessment.
Fire-affected farmers are encouraged to call Agriculture Victoria Recovery Team on 0427 694 185.
This article appeared in Naracoorte Community News, 19 January 2022.