BY Russell Luckock
A COUPLE had a lucky escape when their house caught fire and was burnt out. The Buninyong district residents managed to get out on to their roof through a window but both suffered smoke inhalation when the husband finally managed to get his semi-conscious wife out with the help of a neighbour. The couple were taken to hospital. Anthony Pearce from CFA Media said that, on arrival, they had helped to rescue the couple from the roof and then attacked the fire in the two-storey mud brick house which was well alight as the fire was burning in readily-flammable stored material. Some fifteen CFA units attended including Ballarat City’s Ladder Platform truck which was used to attack the fire from above. This unit can pump 4,000 litres a minute when required but access into the roof was difficult as holes had to be cut in the corrugated iron with a power saw and then the fire kept at bay as fast as possible. An excavator was subsequently used to tear away smouldering debris so it could be extinguished. The difficulty in accessing adequate water supplies was a particular problem with this fire. A dam at the back of the block was inaccessible so other part-full dams nearby were used for a while until water tankers could be organised. Buninyong CFA’s Collar tank was situated on the road outside the house and was being refilled by a constant stream of tankers. The mud brick walls of the house made it very hot inside, according to firefighters who had to search inside with breathing apparatus, as the bricks don’t let the heat escape and it becomes like a pizza oven. Fire units from Buninyong, Mt Buninyong, Haddon, Elaine, Mt Warrenheip,Sebastopol and Ballarat amongst others attended the fire which took several hours to control. Ambulance paramedics from Ballarat, Wendouree and Sebastopol were also there. The Incident Controller for the fire was Matt O’Brien from Buninyong CFA. On the radio co-ordinating trucks was Gareth Smith while driver Kenneth Bell and crewman Taylor Connell manned Buninyong CFA’s tanker.
It seems that the lack of fire-fighting water in some semi-rural areas is an issue that may need to be addressed. CFA has invested heavily in new and powerful fire-fighting equipment that is quickly on the scene of a fire. But they can only operate effectively with adequate water wherever a fire happens to start.
Photo supplied by Russell.