Fire 1 & 2


Ok, as you’ve seen in the last update we had a bobcat come in and move all the junk wood into 5 big piles, the plan was to burn these piles to get rid of them and into a managable size. There was A LOT of wood lying on the ground, there still is, but the bulk of it is now stacked into these giant bonfires. We are planning to burn a fire per weekend until they’re all gone.

The morning…..looks peaceful hey? It wasn’t….it was just evil waiting to happen.

The time came for the first burn-off. We did all the right things, notified fire control that we were going to be burning off, told our neighbours (in case they saw a fire and called the fire brigade) and created a break around the fire by raking all loose and dry stuff away within about 2 meters. It was a reasonable wind free day, we were there for about half an hour before the wind died down a little and we decide to do start the fire…as soon as I put the match to the dry grass at the fires base, WHOOSH, the wind came up.

This particular wood pile was at the base of a hill, despite the break we created the dry grass as the base of the fire caught fire and started burning up the hill, fuel by the wind as it took off. We did our best to control it as it crawled up the hill, but by this time the main fire was raging and standing too close risks loss of eyebrows or worse. By the time the grass had burnt about a 20 metre front up the hill the neighbours across the road saw we were having some trouble and came over, shovels in hand to help out. We hadn’t met them at this stage…what a way to meet your neighbours.

By about 30 metres we decided we weren’t getting very far with shovels and rakes, we were managing to control the direction of the grass burning but not the speed and it was approaching our car, the picnic area and the next door neighbours I decided it was time to dial 000.

As it happens, by the time the brigade arrived (from Chisholm fire station first, then the volunteers from Williamsdale) we had it under control, the pictures show how far it got. It was a bit scary for a while, it’s just amazing how fast fire can travel in the right conditions. The fire guys were very sporting about it, they used it as an occasion to catch up with their fire brigade mates from the other stations while we stood around exhausted from trying to put the damn thing out…while the main fire quietly burned away in the background……

Unforunately there are no pictures of the main fire in full force or the grass burning the way up the hill, mainly because our official photographer (me) was a bit busy with a rake, trying to put the stinking fire out.

A fire truck, they didn’t even show us their hoses.

The aftermath, the burned bits, some charcoal and a lot of dead grass, if it would rain, this bit would come up nice and green. The fire was still burning 3 days after we lit it (in the main pile, we had it under control)..the fire was actually burning inside the pile and was warm for a long time.

We learned our lesson, and despite the fact that we did everything right, just had bad luck (the fire guys said so, really!) we decided to get a tractor witha blade on the front to dig proper dirt breaks around all the remaining (4) piles, this would make controling them MUCH easier. And it did, we burned the big one shown at the top in these pictures on the weekend and it went off without a hitch, pictures as they come…..

We took some smarty pills

As mentioned in the last Fire episode we got smart and learned a lot from the small bushfire we started the first time. It’s a lucky thing too, because the next 4 burn offs where epic in size and length. Take a look.

We got up really early one Saturday morning to set fire to this large pile of wood, Kristie took this shot, she forgot how to use the zoom button (or use poor mans zoom i.e. stand closer to your subject). The point of this shot was to show how big the pile was, it doesn’t look it, but it was a monster!

There was very little wind, the fire burnt nice and fast and high, but at no time did it threaten to jump the breaks and set our hair on alight. Kinda boring really (after the last effort)..were we being overconfident in our fire lighting skills? This pile was still smoldering 4 days after we lit it…..

The next one was a night time effort since the early morning one went so well. Luckily fire is hot, because it’s freakin cold in Canberra at night during the winter. This one was rather large, but again, got kinda boring as we soon discovered how effective the fire breaks we had cut were. It took a long time to burn but after about 45 minutes when the initial raging inferno died down, we had nothing more to do but sit and wait for it to die down enough so we could leave it alone (this usually took about 6 hours).

So ends the fire saga, we took it all for granted after the 3rd pile and didn’t even take any pictures of the 4th and 5th, it was just more of the same. Now the biggest fire we should have to deal with is the BBQ, since the land if mostly clear of junk, dry grass and dead wood. If we do ever have to burn off again I’ll make sure I park a fully fuelled car or leave a jerry can full of kerosene near by, just to add a little excitement 😉