How ‘ignorance’ nearly led to fire disaster

FIREFIGHTERS in Wodonga could have faced disaster yesterday due to public ignorance.

Two fires ignited on median strips on the Hume Freeway and Lincoln Causeway yesterday afternoon, with either discarded cigarette butts or mechanical failures believed to be responsible.

“Either way it comes down to ignorant people, because you should not be throwing your cigarette out of the window and you should not be driving a car that is mechanically unsafe,” Wodonga senior station officer Paul Scragg said.

“Some people are just ignorant, they’ve got no idea.”

Given the heat and a North East fire rating of extreme, nine trucks were sent to both small fires to ensure they didn’t get out of hand.

Five trucks responded to the first small fire on the median strip, opposite La Trobe University, at noon.

Four trucks went to the second fire at the Lincoln Causeway entrance at 2.45pm.

“It was fortunate the fires started in the median strips and were contained by the roads,” firefighter Brett Myers said.

“If it had have been on the other side of the road we would have been dealing with a different situation.”

He said not only was it extremely dangerous to throw away a lit cigarette, it was a criminal offence.

“Someone can potentially face a $17,000 fine or be imprisoned for 12 months, or both,” Mr Myers said.

“This is something the CFA does not take lightly.

“People need to be more diligent, residents need to dispose of cigarette butts in a proper and safe manner.”

Meanwhile, the CFA sent trucks and firefighters to four fires that broke out at Guys Forest, Burrowye and 20 kilometres north-west of Corryong, after 8pm yesterday.

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