SCORCHED: The charred remains of Goodliffe after fire raged through it.
SCORCHED: The charred remains of Goodliffe after fire raged through it. CONTRIBUTED

Lightning sparks blaze on Springsure property

RECORD-breaking temperatures driving the mercury up and strong westerly winds are feeding fires burning towards the Carnarvon Gorge and across the Drummond Range.

A dry lightning strike last Monday on Castlevale, a property west of Springsure, was the spark which started the largest bushfires of the season and razed properties north and south of a section of the Springsure- Tambo Rd.

On Monday, the blaze started to come through grazier James Speel's property, Goodliffe, with the dry conditions and 50kmh winds fanning flames that burnt over 30,000 acres (12,140ha) of his land.

Nearby, Mantuan Downs and Albeni were also badly affected.

"Eighty per cent of my grass is lost," Mr Speel said.

"There was no chance of stopping it."

The fire on the Speel's property has been contained but elsewhere the firefronts on other properties surrounding him continue to rage.

Mr Speel said the support he received from the community and his neighbours was nothing short of terrific.

"It's dry and the beef industry has been poor and my neighbours had their own fires but they still had time to come and help me and I really appreciate that," he said.

With the fire dying down Mr Speel has the problem of finding a home for more than 5000 cattle he can no longer keep.

"I'm putting a lot of the cattle on a feedlot and some in a reserve in Springsure."

Central Highlands acting Mayor Gail Nixon said there were eight fire appliances, two tankers, five heavy plant and two aircraft joining landowners fighting the fires yesterday.

"This is a really sad situation - there are people losing their whole livelihoods and their grass is what was keeping their stock alive," Cr Nixon said.

"Without it, there's no income."

"I am really concerned for the men and women fighting it. It's the same people over and over."


Harvest danger as fire flares up

FARMERS are busy bringing in their wheat and chickpea crops, but the dry and hot temperatures are causing harvesters to catch fire.

Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry principal technical officer Maurie Conway said the high temperatures and low humidity caused the flaming chickpeas.

"The chickpea dust is very flammable," Mr Conway said.

"It sits on the exhaust manifold and it's very hot and catches on fire.

"It's about being vigilant.

"If it's a really hot and really dry day then the contract harvesters will not harvest chickpeas."

Mr Conway said it had been a good season considering there was no "in crop rain".

Wheat yields range from 0.5 to 2.5 tonnes a hectare and chickpeas 1.4 to 2 tonnes.

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