Speed of fire caught Tatyoon community by surprise

TATYOON - A fast moving grassfire which swept through the Tatyoon area late in December affected a number of properties, including that of Joylene Sutherland.

Around 28 Country Fire Authority trucks and four aircraft attend the blaze, which broke out with temperatures in the mid 30s and wind gusts reaching 50km/h.

In total the fire burnt 350 hectares in the Tatyoon area, destroying crops, fences and sheds, including a hay shed full of hay on Ms Sutherland's property.

The speed of the fire caught all by surprise.

"I went out when the wind changed, it came very quick. It was just a cloud of dust and then I smelt the smoke and saw it coming at my home," Ms Sutherland said.

"I was scared, that closing of the throat dry mouth scared, but I didn't panic. I had a pump at the dam and that was the first thing I did, prime it so it was there for the trucks."

Ms Sutherland said the fire took out the whole east side of her property, Orana, but thankfully homes on the property were saved.

"Having everything clean underneath helps (no fuel under trees and around buildings), I had everything mowed around the place," she said.

In addition to the hay shed, Ms Sutherland lost kilometres of fencing while four native plantations were seriously scorched.

After the fire passed, Ms Sutherland was assisted by CFA volunteers in cleaning up and ensuring no spot fires ignited, while later in the evening an excavator was used to turn over the smouldering hay. CFA volunteers also returned the following day to dampen down the hay with foam before burying.

Personally, Ms Sutherland was disappointed that some of the oldest plants in her large collection of cacti were scorched in the blaze.

"Some of the plants that were burnt were 35 years old," she said.

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