Wondalga a key battleground: ‘today is the day’

Fire burning in native timber yesterday afternoon at Nacki Creek, Wondalga.

Wondalga will be a key battle ground in today’s fire-fighting effort to keep some kind of control on the devastating Dunns Road fire around the Yaven Creek, Adelong and Batlow regions.

Located between Ellerslie, where the fire began, and Batlow – with unburnt pine country to the west – Wondalga faces the prospect of battling the blaze on multiple fronts. 

So far, the incredible efforts of fire-fighters have meant there’s been negligible impact on farmland.

Wondalga Rural Fire Service captain Shane Walsh said fire-fighters had done all they can in preparation for today, and it was now a matter of waiting for the weather to turn bad, predicted to be mid-morning, when west-north-westerlys are due to hit. 

“They’re talking that the shit is going to hit the fan about 11am today, so we’ll see what happens then, but we’ve been working pretty hard in the Greenhills State Forest for the last few days to get ready,” Mr Walsh said.  

“Conditions have been perfect for us. Obviously the fire in that Spyglass division is a worry – that’s the one that will burn onto Batlow and potentially link up with the fire near Ardrossan. 

“The fire around Mt Hugal … that’s the one that could be blown down to us.” 

RFS volunteers had been working with State Forests and private landholders to prepare for today’s worsening conditions. 

A grader line has been run from the Back Nacki Creek right around to the Wondalga Fire Shed, in an effort to ring off private landholders from pine plantation, where the fire has proven impossible to control once it gets going. In the other direction, there’s fire breaks to Adelong. 

A community meeting last night at the top end of Sharpe’s Creek attracted 40-50 people, where the community was informed about what had been happening, including a briefing on the weather. An informal staging area has been set up for safety. 

“There were people there I’d never seen before – it was a good meeting,” Mr Walsh said.

“We have plans in place, we’re as prepared as we can be for what’s ahead.”

“We’ve got some decent resources we’ve organised, heavy machines at our disposal, bulk water … we can’t do much else.” 

The potential fo the fire to spot ahead of any fire front on the north westerly wind was the main concern for firefighers. 

“The fire can just explode in pine country,” Mr Walsh said. “If there’s wind, it’ll spit out spot fires a long way ahead.

“There’s some unburnt bit of pine down in the bottom of privately owned Greenhills … it’s a bit nasty down there. That’s a concern for us.” 

“Today is the day. 

“We’ve got our fingers and toes crossed we can get through today. Conditions are a lot better tomorrow.” 

Fire-fighters have so far held the blaze out of farmland at Wondalga.