West Wyalong fire 'caused by harvest accident'

Wednesday’s nightmare bushfire near West Wyalong was far from over for property owner Ken Hardie on Thursday afternoon.

The blaze began on his property, caused by a freak accident authorities suggest could have happened to any one of the farmers harvesting in the area.

Desperate firefighters were forced to summon the Rural Fire Service’s (RFS) two monstrous water bombing tankers in attempts to quell a wild bushfire.

“Thor” and “Southern Belle” soared through Riverina skies around 4.30pm to drop 44,000 litres of water onto the fierce blaze, eventually burning over 7000 hectares of farm land.

An estimated $500,000 worth of crops were burnt up to Thursday afternoon, including recently harvested yields in grain bags.

An exhausted Mr Hardie said he felt terrible about the impact the fire has had on his neighbours.

He and the whole district were up all night fighting the blaze.

"It is a disaster for the whole district really," he said.

"We are feeling absolutely terrible - the fire has hit a lot of properties down the road, our good neighbours.

We are feeling absolutely terrible - the fire has hit a lot of properties down the road ...

Ken Hardie

Mr Hardie said the conditions made fighting the inferno almost impossible.

"It was just so volatile, my daughter was on the chaser bin, she saw it start and it was just a little spark and it blew right up and we couldn't put it out,” he said.

"Even the firefighters, they would put it out and it would reignite, put it out and reignite, so volatile.”

The blaze began on Mr Hardie’s property near North Yalgogrin and was deemed out of control by authorities on Wednesday afternoon bringing the Mid Western Highway to a close.

The RFS upgraded the unruly grass fire to a Watch and Act amid fears for properties north of Tallimba Rd and south of the Mid Western Highway.

The fire worsened after it entered a wheat crop. 

NSW RFS reportedly brought some sections under control, while others proved more of a struggle. 

Retired trucks and make-shift units made from utes were employed to bring the massive blaze under control.

Yalgogrin man and volunteer firefighter Keith Rowe had been fighting the fire since yesterday as he and his neighbours desperately tried to save their homes.

“We still have trees burning and there are a whole heap of hot spots.”


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