Fire front

A grass fire, which started in Geegulalong Road nine kilometres east of Murringo Sunday afternoon, went on to consume over 3400 hectares (8000 acres) across the Young and Boorowa Shires, including 15 kilometres of fencing. 

As the fire remains close to containment, 500 sheep have been confirmed dead.

Amid speculation as to what started the fire, the cause is still officially under investigation but is not believed to be suspicious.

Rural Fire Service South West Slopes District Manager Andrew Dillon said there were no reports of house losses.

“It had the potential to threaten homes but no homes were lost mainly due to the really good work of our fire crews and the aviation support,” he said. 

“Overall it was a great operation for the crews to wrap it up so quickly,” Mr Dillon said.

Over 120 NSW Rural Fire Service Volunteer firefighters in 55 trucks from Young, Boorowa, Harden and Cootamundra fought alongside crews from Cowra, Yass and Orange overnight into the following day until it was under control.

Three fixed wing aircraft and three helicopters assisted the on-ground effort, dousing the flames with water from above.

Earthmoving machinery battled the fire in scrub and grass. 

Mr Dillon commended the work of the community, who used private firefighting appliances to help fire fighters.

“Their assistance was appreciated,” he said.

One such Murringo resident, Alana Thomas, said she initially noticed the fire approaching her partner’s house.

“[My first response was to] just get everything ready, to get the fire fighting [pumps] ready and to get the stock moved,” she said.

The wind then changed direction, she said, and so she  and her partner went to warn his neighbours, where the fire was burning 800 to 900 metres from their property, but no-one was home. 

They left and returned with a firefighting tank and began fighting the blaze.

They were shocked to come across almost 200 burning sheep.

“It was the most horrifying thing to see,” Ms Thomas said.

“Out of about 192, we saved 10 of them and that was it.” 

Another Murringo resident who assisted in the firefighting efforts, Young Witness photographer Paul Neville, said it was great to see his community band together.

“I feel proud to be part of a community that doesn’t care what the problem is or whose it is, they all jump in to fight it,” he said.

“A fire reminds me of a stage production - there are lead roles and cameo appearances, but without everyone playing their part, no matter how small the role, there would be no show.” 

Overall though, Mr Neville said, it could have been worse.

“Everyone’s still got a house; everyone’s still got a family,” he said.

Mr Dillon said it was a timely reminder for shire residents to have their bushfire strategies in place.

Visit www.rfs.nsw.gov.au for information on making sure your property is fire safe.

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