Dry lake ablaze as fire takes hold on city icon burning eight hectares

Dry lake ablaze as fire takes hold on city icon burning eight hectares

29 December 2008

published by www.thecourier.com.au

Australia — Firefighters worked for three hours to extinguish a blaze on Lake Wendouree yesterday.

The area was shrouded with smoke after the fire started about 100 metres from the northern shore, near Forest St, after 3pm.

Fairy grass and reeds were burnt in the eight-hectare fire, which was extinguished by 6pm.

There were reports the fire started after the City of Ballarat conducted a test burn on the lake to rid the area of fairy grass.

But neither the City of Ballarat or CFA would confirm the fire’s cause yesterday.

“Council will initiate an incident debrief tomorrow morning. We will make contact with the CFA duty officer,” City of Ballarat sustainability director Ian Rossiter said.

Ballarat City Fire Brigade fire officer Mal Jones said the incident was under investigation.

He confirmed a fire duty officer would meet with the City of Ballarat today.

CFA media yesterday directed all calls about the fire to the City of Ballarat.

Mr Rossiter said in recent weeks, council had been busy trying to control the lake’s fairy grass as much as possible.

He said the only work he knew council was doing on the lake bed yesterday was using an all terrain mower to slash fairy grass.

“We have had a contractor working since Saturday to try and slash fairy grass on seed areas,” Mr Rossiter said.

The fire took three hours to extinguish because fire units were unable to drive on the lake’s soft surface.

An off-road work vehicle ferried firefighters to and from the fire.

Two units from Ballarat City initially attended with additional resources called in.

“As it went on, we got Wendouree and Ballarat brigades as well to give us a hand because it’s a lot of manpower to walk around with knapsacks,” Mr Jones said.

“The only concern was the smoke blowing in the area. There has been no damage to the lake bed.”

Mr Jones said the fire had cleaned up a lot of fairy grass.

Fire fighters patrolled the burnt area until 9pm.

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