Quick actions avoid tragedy in Tarcutta

Source: Daily Advertiser

Tarcutta, near Wagga, was under threat yesterday from nearly all directions after a fire broke out and quickly spread toward homes.

The quick actions of firefighters meant a containment line was put in west of the village to stop the fire, which started on Mates Gully Road, going into properties.

Residents were advised they could relocate voluntarily or go to the Tarcutta RSL, about 1pm, in the catastrophic weather conditions.

Gusts of 80km/h winds moving in a north and north easterly direction did not help the situation and meant it was too dangerous to use water bombing aircraft.

The Rural Fire Service (RFS) also had to deal with localised winds moving east.

The fire is believed to have started from a tree falling on to power lines on Mates Gully Road, just after 11am.

This saw the flames start to move in on the southern side of Tarcutta.

By afternoon fires were closing in from the north, at Tangoo, and from the east at the Hume Highway.

Access was cut off from the village at 2.30pm because of deteriorating conditions.

There were 66 firefighters working to control the blaze which had burnt 550 hectares by last night.

The Hume Highway was reopened again just after 5pm, although the RFS has urged residents to keep away if they don’t need to be there.

“The eastern flank impacted heavily on the Hume Highway and we believe some assets like guard rails and signage may have been lost,” RFS media liaison officer Matt Apps said.

The roads were dangerous for most of the afternoon with a large amount of timber bursting into flames and embers flying through the air. Smoke blanketed the town causing fear among residents who decided to stay.

“The biggest concern was the potential impact on the village of Tarcutta and the potential loss of rural properties,” Mr Apps said late last night.

“The most difficult part of fighting the fire was gaining access to it due to the heavy smoke and the fire was quick and rolling across the hills.

“At this stage it is unconfirmed if any properties are damaged.

“We virtually had every single unit within the Riverina zone at fires today and we had strike teams from Fire and Rescue NSW.”

Twenty Country Fire Authority firetrucks from Victoria were reportedly heading to the area to relieve weary firefighters last night.

About 5pm a grader operator was taken to Wagga Base Hospital from Mates Gully Road after an accident in bush terrain that was being controlled.

A firefighter also sustained injuries to his eyes from the smoke and heat and has received treatment.

Power was cut to water treatment plants in Tarcutta because of the fires and the Riverina Water County Council is advising residents to limit water consumption until further notice.

The Tarcutta brigade captain was taken up in a helicopter last night to get an aerial view of how best to contain the fire today.

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

The blaze takes over paddocks at Tarcutta yesterday, threatening the township. Picture: Oscar Colman

The blaze takes over paddocks at Tarcutta yesterday, threatening the township. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman

A bushfire that started along Mates Gully Road quickly spread towards Tarcutta. January 8, 2013. Picture: Oscar Colman