Exhausting week for Mt Adrah landholders

Some of the blackened country at Highfield Woodland and Farm.

With conditions at more favourable levels since a hectic night for Mt Adrah residents and fire-fighters on Friday and early Saturday morning, residents are nonetheless being asked to monitor for fire in the areas around Ellerslie and Mount Adrah.

Currently, fire is creeping through the nature reserve nearby properties in the Ellerslie and Mount Adrah area, and there is an active edge on the north-eastern side, parallel to the Hume highway.

A strong southerly change on Friday saw the fire break out of Ellerslie. Firefighters were able to protect homes, but more farmland in the area was blackened.

District Coordinator for the RFS Peter Jones said that he is confident that the situation in the Ellerslie Nature Reserve will be easier to handle once it enters grassland.

“It’s still in forested areas at the moment,” Mr Jones said. “But there are some grass areas where they should be able to get on top of it. At the moment it’s just hanging around. Hopefully, it should improve over the next few days, though a bad fire day is predicted for Tuesday.

However, he said that the conditions would be nowhere near as bad as what was witnessed over the New Years period and that the promise of forecasted rain from storms on Thursday and Friday should help ease the situation.   

The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting a daily dose of between 2 to 10 millimetres on Thursday and Friday around Adelong and Tumut and Tumbarumba is expected to see further showers on Saturday.

“It’s quite possible that we have turned a corner with some rain predicted through the week,” Mr Jones said.

“We are quietly confident that we’re getting on top of it. There are crews in place to lock that Ellerslie area up and have it contained.”

He said that there were also plenty of crews on the ground combating the fire front south of Tumbarumba.

“There’s still active fire on the bottom end of Tumbarumba and a little bit more so on the eastern edge south of Tooma road,” he said.

“There is some back-burning going on to tie in on Tooma road heading back to Bogandyra Nature Reserve near Mount Galla,” he said.

Containment lines are also being established to the south of Goobarragandra and the back of Long Plain Road.

“For the moment, all fires are under advice but we will raise the fire status and issue an alert if required,” he said.

Mount Adrah resident and co-owner of Highfield Farm and Woodland Louise Freckleton said that it had been an exhausting week for her and her husband, with fire ominously creeping through the nearby Ellerslie Nature Reserve which forms a part of their property.

“Currently the fire near us is not severe or catastrophic but has just been a slow creeping monster,” Ms Freckleton said.

“A good half of our property has already burnt, mostly in the conservation area. But it has also taken out two paddocks that were full of feed we were reserving for late summer going into autumn.

“We have lost half of our grazing and a set of stock yards but on the other hand, all our live stock are safe.

“There must be exceptional loss to wild-life in the conservation area though. We have been mindful of animals which have limited feed because of what has been burnt and we have been putting out feeding stations with fruit and vegetables for any surviving animals.”

National Parks & Wildlife and RFS crews are still present on and nearby the property as well as neighbouring properties to control the slow-burning flames. She said that the current conditions were giving fire-fighters the upper hand, but the right wind directions and ignition points were also making the situation inconsistent.  

“We’ve been extremely lucky and have been looked after by National Parks & Wildlife service, fire crews and numerous local crews and those from away,” she said.

“They’ve been just fantastic and extraordinarily supportive.”

She said that she was tentatively expecting that a decline of fire fuel will slow the blaze down further.

“As far as I understand with the current conditions, it’s fairly benign at the moment.  Plant operators under the direction of the fire controllers have put in containment lines and by and large, that is being done by the beautiful people of Woody’s Earthmoving at Adelong,” she said.

“My hunch is that the fire in our area hasn’t been fuelled by dramatic pine areas and largely the wind directions have been in our favour except for the southerly that came through a couple of days ago.”  

Ms Freckleton said that she had only left the property once on Friday throughout the event and that her husband had stayed to assist the Mundarlo crew on the ground.

Before leaving and since returning, the Freckletons have been maintaining contact with property owners nearby.

“We have been working closely with our neighbours at Yaven. Chris Bailey has been discussing how the fires are moving with David so we are all keeping an eye out for each other,” she said.

“We are extraordinarily grateful to RFS and the National Parks & Wildlife Service. In terms of moving forward, the only thing that we can do is keep putting in containment lines and keep an eye on what’s happening,” she said.

Elders in Tumut and Adelong are working in conjunction with Intersales to provide transport for donated hay of any quality from Temora, Griffith and Wagga Wagga areas. Elders are co-ordinating the distribution upon arrival.

Donated Hay can be brought to any Intersales branch, or can be collected from farms.

Those who wish to receive a donation of Hay or would like to make a donation should either contact Rob Stubbs at Elders Tumut on (02) 6981 3100 or Trevor Morton or Jim Morrison at Intersales on (02) 6977 1933. 

Residents are in the meantime being told to continuously monitor the conditions by staying up to date through local radio, the RFS website and the fires near me app.