Farmers praise Mount Canobolas firefighting efforts

AIRCRAFT working on the Mount Canobolas fire have proven crucial in limiting damage to at least two properties threatened by the flames.

Rose Farm, off Nancarrow Lane, was hit at about 4pm on Sunday – the flames entered on two sides of the hazelnut orchard, but did not burn through it. 

Owner of 20 years Graeme Eastwood said he had been watching the fire since Saturday night. 

“The fire just got going and we couldn’t seem to stop it,” he said. 

“The choppers were great, they did a brilliant job … and then all the ground units did the rest.”

There was heat damage to the edges of the orchard and Mr Eastwood estimated he might have lost 500 young trees, but the commercial loss was minor.

David and Carolyn Gartrell’s Mount Lofty Road property, Wattleview, was also affected as changing wind conditions sandwiched them between fire fronts.

For them, the fight was to save their home and they were well prepared.

The house was built against the hill and sprinklers were installed on the roof, designed to soak the roof and two metres of bushland, while filling the gutters. 

“We elected to live here in the bush and so we don’t expect to have everyone coming up here and fighting for our safety,” Mr Gartrell said. 

The measures worked well with the help of two RFS crews, however Mr Gartrell said the fire roared up the hill towards the western boundary and came within metres of the house. 

“As it hit the edge of the garden here, I was feeling pretty insignificant,” he said. 

“There had been five [choppers] working, those pilots are driving with huge smoke, five other aircraft in the air, updrafts and heat and so forth and this guy came in and he just loaded up [at] this western fence with pinpoint accuracy and put the bucket out on top of the trees – it just slowed everything down and we were able to direct it around the home.”

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