Winds flame 'erratic' Tallangatta fire


Current status: Contained. Crews: 11.

'Advice' warning for the town(s) of Gundowring, Upper Gundowring, Kergunyah, Noorongong, Sandy Creek, Sandy Creek Upper, Tallandoon, Tallangatta East, The Cascade, Yabba, Charleroi, Tallangatta South, Bullioh, Gundowring North, Old Tallangatta, Tallangatta.

FIREFIGHTERS have battled an “erratic” bushfire that raced across rugged terrain at Tallangatta East overnight.

Sparked by a lightning strike on Mount Charlie about 6pm, the blaze was at one point spotting up to a kilometre in front of the main front.

Within an hour it had burnt more than 50 hectares, stopping at the Murray Valley Highway on the edge of Lake Hume.

More than 30 tankers from the Country Fire Authority and Department of Sustainability and Environment, along with helicopters, seconded from the Harrietville fire, and bulldozers faced a race against time as a storm cell from NSW hit the Upper Murray.

Shifting winds saw the fire change direction several times, the CFA warning people in Bullioh and Old Tallangatta to stay alert.

By about 8.30pm the fire crews and helicopters had contained the bulk of the blaze but were still be on the fireground this morning to black out the fire.

CFA district 24 duty officer John Bigham said the plan was to “hit it and hit it hard”.

“We certainly didn’t want to be out there in the middle of the night still fighting the fire,” he said.

“Having the heli-attack at our disposal was certainly a great help in what was extremely steep terrain.

“Initially we had grave concerns with the fire — with the erratic winds from the storm, the fire changed directions several times.

“But the crews on the fireground deserve a lot of credit for being able to stop the fire so quickly.”

Andrew Paton, who lives on Yabba Road, below where the fire started, said the hill looked like a Christmas tree.

“There are so many fire trucks and police up there, there are lights everywhere,” he said.

“There was a storm about 5pm that passed through here and they say it was almost certainly a lightning strike.

“It pretty much burnt to the weir edge but the homes were protected.

“This is pretty uninteresting country, mainly rocks and grass — had it got into the trees or had a westerly blown it up into the Tallangatta Valley it may have been a very different story.”

Lightning also sparked a fire closer to Corryong that burnt 20 hectares before being contained.

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