Crop fire prods Balaklava on a sleepy Sunday

The police vehicle of Balaklava officer Graham Olds blocks traffic as flames soar in the March paddock.

A HEADER bearing is the alleged cause of a fire in a crop farmed by the Roberts family east of Balaklava on Sunday afternoon.
The fire, which started  about 6pm, sent clouds of billowing black smoke high above Balaklava, causing many residents to stir, seeking the cause. Dozens of vehicles came to the area.
CFS and farm fire-fighting units moved quickly to contain the blaze, which still burned about 100 hectares  of wheat and stubble which had been inundated with floodwater in December.
It was the final paddock to be reapt by the Roberts family after an unusually long harvest. Reaping is now complete.
The fire also spread into a paddock of high stubble near the farming home of Callum and Lauren March.
This could have threatened buildings and possibly the home, but was contained by fast-moving CFS crews.
Units from Balaklava, Hoyleton, Port Wakefield, Owen, Auburn, Alma, Avon and Hamley Bridge attended.
Wakefield Plains CFS group’s new water tanker, commissioned only recently, was brought into action to deliver water (see separate story).

Water tanker adds to CFS arsenal

WAKEFIELD Plains CFS group has been handed a new weapon in its fire fighting
arsenal – and it was put to good use in Sunday’s fire.
The new 13,000 litre water tanker is the latest addition to the group’s fire combat appliances.
Group officer Chris Cowan said the tanker was put to its first test at a fire scene delivering water to units at Sunday’s fire.
The tanker provides an efficient and convenient refilling source for fire trucks, which can only hold between 2000 to 3000 litres.
It has an in-built pump, which runs from the truck’s engine.
Mr Cowan said it could refill a truck in about five minutes, which includes set up time.
This could save anywhere up to 40 minutes on refilling from water mains, depending on the location of the main.
The tanker also has an automatic transmission, “which is a bit different to what a lot of us are used to,” Mr Cowan said.
While the tanker is a handy addition for the group, Mr Cowan said one tanker is not enough for some blazes.
“We have borrowed tankers before and we probably still will in the future depending on the size of the fire,” he said.