Fire on the Limestone Plains/Appendix A
REPORT FOR FORESTER ON THE FIRE OF JANUARY 14TH
ORIGIN OF THE FIRE
It seems likely that two separate fires which subsequently joined caused the trouble. One started near Wee Jasper before January 6 and the other probably on the Goodradigbee near Waterfall Creek at least before Monday January 9. The fires may have been burning for some time previously in these localities and increased at about this time due to the dry weather. There can be little doubt that they were originally lit by those who have grazing interests in the country between the Goodradigbee and the western territory boundary.
THE FIRE FIGHTING IN THE TERRITORY
On Tuesday (10th) night according to D. Hyles the fire was well behind Two Sticks and it reached the crest of the Blue Range at 7 p.m. on Friday, January 13, that is just within the Australian Capital Territory boundary. By 8 p.m. a spark had fallen within ½ mile of the plantation and the resulting fire was extinguished by 2 station hands who were later assisted by Uriarra Forest employees.
Before about 2 a.m. on Saturday January 14 about 60 men in two gangs were dispatched from Uriarra Station to commence burning a break from Blue Range to near Webb’s place. I accompanied the gang to the Blue Range with Staunton as leading hand.
The oil-distillers camp was reached at about 3.30 a.m. and the men were on the fire before daylight – about 4.30 a.m. The gang then proceeded to make a trail commencing just outside the new fence line on the Blue Range. Tonnella had charge of about half the men and proceeded N.E. and then along Hyles boundary for about 20 chains. Staunton proceeded up the fence line to the proposed tree line and the trail was burnt back and in good order by 11.30 a.m. January 14, (about one mile in all).
About mid-day the gale sprung up and threw sparks a long way towards Uriarra and about the same time according to D, Hyles a whirlwind lifted sparks from the junction of South Arm and Uriarra Creek, scattering them widely over Uriarra Station. At 1 p.m. a very heavy fire started up to the east of the oil-distillers’ camp in station property. At 2.15 p.m. Staunton and about 15 men returned to the oil distillers’ camp according to my instructions and he noticed some isolated fires on the way back.
At 1.30 p.m. H. Storen saw a fire start in compartment 58 in Bullock Block and at 2.25 p.m. I saw Mackenzie burning back along Brindabella road into Bullock Block (Northern portion).
At 2.30 p.m. there were 3 fires in Perritt’s Block which had just started before my return and shortly after 3 more started. Staunton got Hall’s car at 3 p.m. and set off with the men for the Brindabella gate. Mackenzie was coming down on the way with the news that the fire had jumped the Brindabella Road. Staunton started back burning at 3.6 p.m. from the Brindabella gate and at 3.30 p.m. I viewed Bullock paddock which was three quarters burnt and Macdonald which was half burnt, the extent of the burning suggesting that the fire lit up in several places and even before the fire in Perritt’s Block.
At 3.40 p.m. I rode down the road to Uriarra and got the truck C.L. 225 to return with water. The Forester also came through at the same time with Phillips. Fire from the back burning got into Compartment 70 at about 6.30 p.m. and that compartment had to be sacrificed.
By 7 p.m. the back burning along the northern side of Brindabella Road to Pabral camp had been completed. At 7.10 p.m. Staunton proceed to burn round Compartment 70 and then down the Hindenburg line to the Cotter River. At 7.10 p.m. he noticed two separate fires in the 1928 plantation at Pierce’s Creek. Staunton found the fire very close to the Hindenburg line all the way and he just beat it to the Bullock paddock road by 9 p.m. and then again to then again to the Cotter which he joined at 11.30 p.m.
Staunton continued to patrol until 2.30 a.m. and this was satisfactorily continued throughout Sunday with one exception when Compartment 85 near the Cotter was burnt.
On Sunday afternoon I rode to Kirschener’s gate and then climbed to the top of Black Spring Range. From a Tree top there I could see no fire either in the head of Pierce’s Creek or on the eastern face of Tidbinbilla. Subsequently I rode to Phil Flint’s house through Paddy’s river but again I could see no fire.
On Monday I rode to Bull’s Head and almost to Mount Franklin. Apparently there was no fire in Bushranger’s Creek nor anywhere between Bull’s Head and Mount Franklin but a heavy fog obscured vision. Subsequent weather conditions favoured the suppression of the fire which has been quiet since.
(L. D. Pryor)