By Jackson Russell
Quick-thinking and good timing from a group of Romsey-based workers prevented a suspicous grass fire from damaging homes in Springridge estate in Wallan last week.
Newearth Constructions machine operator Daniel Ward was leaving a job site in Hidden Valley on Monday afternoon when he spotted smoke coming from grass at the eastern edge of the estate.
Mr Ward quickly called two colleagues, Beau Sliwinski and Josh Lawrence, who were working onsite at Springridge to inform them of the fire.
Fortunately, both had only just left work and were able to return to help control the fire.
Mr Ward said the fire had doubled in size from when he spotted it to when the three started to fight it.
“When I first saw it on the road, it would’ve been about five metres around and by the time I got into the estate, it would’ve been twice the size,” he said.
“That’s when I got onto these boys because by the time the CFA got there, it could’ve been a lot worse because the wind was heading towards the houses.”
With Mr Sliwinski in a water tanker and Mr Lawrence on a grader, the trio was able to prevent the fire from reaching nearby homes by cutting a break in the grass.
Mr Lawrence said the idea to cut a break line came from seeing television news reports about bushfires and the team’s existing chemistry helped them act quickly.
“I’ve seen a lot of stuff on TV recently about New South Wales and how bulldozers are in there trying to clean it all up and stop it, so I just thought if you stop the grass then it will stop the fire,” he said.
“Normally we help each other out during the day so it just continued on through the afternoon.”
“It was pretty good how everyone worked together over the UHF radio and everyone had eyes for everyone and knew everything that was going on,” Mr Sliwinski added.
Newearth Constructions general manager Mick McCarthy said the trio was logical in their process to make sure it was safe for them to fight the fire.
“We’re not firefighters, we’re earthmovers but the boys turned their hand to it and a real credit to them the way they handled the situation and thought their way through it,” he said.
CFA District 12 commander Tim McKern said the workers’ quick-thinking stopped the fire from threatening neighbouring properties.
“The fast-moving grass fires have the potential to impact the homes in those estate areas so the actions of contractors on-site reduced the threat to those residents,” he said.
“The fire had plenty of potential and if it wasn’t for the quick actions of the on-site workers, it could’ve been significantly larger and threatened surrounding properties.
“Victoria Police and CFA fire investigation are currently reviewing the incident as suspicious.”