Yaven Creek farmers battle Dunns Road fire

Yaven Creek farmer Michael Reynolds lost sheep and had fire blacken about 2500 of the 3000 acres he owns, but considers himself lucky.

“We’ve kept our house. We’re alive,” Mr Reynolds said. 

The Dunns Road fire swept through farmland at Yaven Creek on Monday afternoon, fanned by strong north-westerly winds which pushed the fire south, breaking containment lines as the blaze spotted at times kilometres ahead of the fire front.

The fire started Saturday afternoon in the private pine plantation known as Takejo, to the north of Yaven Creek.

Crews were able to keep it out of farmland, for the most part, for two days, before the fire broke out of the pines, fanned by strong flames, Monday.

Spotting activity was described as resembling fireballs being thrown from the top of the pines.

“It just came too quickly, when the weather changed,” Mr Reynolds said. “We thought we had it contained, but then it spotted ahead.

“It spotted over our house, then a second front came.

“It looked like it was going to hit the house, before the Gundagai Fire and Rescue team with their big pumper came and we sent it around the house.

“After that, the fire was gone …”

The blaze would, in time, continue a march south, increasing in ferocity once it hit Greenhills State Forest Monday night. It’s now reached a distance about 100km from its ignition point.

A southerly change yesterday had the fire come roaring back, and Yaven Creek farmers have continued to battle fires yesterday and today, and are by no means out of the woods, with fires continuing to threaten houses.

The Reynolds have so far managed to keep an area around their house free from fire. Not all were so lucky. At least one unoccupied house has been flattened.

“We’ve kept our house, all buildings around it, as well as about 100 acres of unburnt country near our house,” Mr Reynolds said.

“All the rest of the countryside on the western side of our property was burnt.”

He said his was just one story, and he felt more fortunate than many others.

“Others have lost all their grass, buildings” he said.

Cattle on the property had avoided the fire better than the sheep.

“Cattle have fared reasonably well, we’ve only lost a few,” he said. “They tend to do a pretty good job avoiding the fire. But we’ve lost quite a number of sheep.”

Some have survived. It just depends on how hard the fire came, and in which paddock.”

Fencing has been destroyed, leading to stock from different properties mixing together.

Mr Reynolds said the Yaven Creek community has simply got on with the job of confronting the challenge at hand.

“We’ve done our best to help our neighbour,” he said. “We’re all in the same situation.”

At Yaven Creek for 40 years, Mr Reynolds said he’d not seen a fire like the one presently.

“No, never,” he said. “We’ve had fires before, we’ve had the dry, but it seems like the heat and wind has been ramped up.

“I hope we don’t have to see that again.”