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Australia’s Harvey Dairy Industry Hit By fire For Second Time
February 11, 2016

Western Australia’s Harvey dairy industry has been hit by bushfire for the second time in less than a month.  On Monday afternoon a bushfire that was first reported at 2.30pm the previous day, burst out of tea tree scrub country onto the back of Graham Manning’s dairy farm about 10 kilometres south-west of Harvey.

Firefighters and neighbours helped Mr Manning battle the blaze in horrendous conditions of 40°C temperature and strengthening winds.  “We had great support,” Mr Manning said on Tuesday as he struggled to restore a permanent water supply to his dairy before the afternoon’s milking.  “We’ve still got the dairy, house and the sheds.  “We lost all our dry land and some fences.  “We’ve got no water to the cows and there’s no power, the power lines that were on wooden poles that ran along the back of us are on the ground.  “Two of the big towers (high voltage transmission towers) behind us went over, just keeled over in the fire, that’s how hot it was.”

Mr Manning said he had moved the cows away from the back of the farm before the fire arrived and was able to milk on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning using a generator.  He said he believed his farm was the worst affected by the fire.

Another local dairy farmer, former Western Dairy chairman Dale Hanks, summed up how Harvey residents felt about the bush fires.  “We’ve had more than our fair share so far this year,” he said.  Mr Hanks’s farm, closer to Harvey than Mr Mannings, was threatened by the Waroona bushfire but not the latest fire.  “We were covered in smoke and the wind was picking up on Monday night and I said to my wife we might be in for a rough night, but it turned all right, the fire was south of us,” he said.  More than 150 firefighters from volunteer bushfire brigades, Department of Fire and Emergency Services and Department of Parks and Wildlife battled the fire in extreme conditions.  It burned out more than 1120 hectares of mainly scrubland between the South Western Highway and Forrest Highway south of Harvey.  At various times it threatened Harvey, Wokalup, Thornton housing estate and Myalup Freshwater Lakes estate in Harvey Shire.  On Monday firefighters also had to contend with a second fire which started in suspicious circumstances east of Harvey townsite.

By: Mal Gill


Summer 2018