Fire fighter battles scars 

A FIREFIGHTER was hospitalised with burns to his hands and face and some 76 hectares of land ravaged during a fire near Gunning on Monday afternoon.

Around 20 vehicles, three aircrafts and 80 personnel gathered 11km south of Gunning to extinguish a blaze ignited by lightning at about 3.30pm.

It’s believed an internally burning tree, struck by lightning during a storm on Saturday night, ignited the fire. An excavator on Monday night removed the tree after fire fighters spent hours containing the inferno.

Rural Fire Services officers remain alert for a repeat in the area this week. Officers conducted back burns around the area in a bid to reduce the risk of a second breakout. The injured firefighter meantime remains in Sydney’s Concord Hospital for treatment.

“They’ll be watching the area very closely. We’ll be ready to act,” Rural Fire Service superintendant Peter Dyce said.

Monday’s operation was both crucial and time consuming.

“You’ve got to remove the tree so sparks don’t jump onto unburnt country,” Mr Dyce continued.

“It’s a matter of getting anything that’s burning away from the edge of the fire. One of the biggest reasons fires spread in those areas is because of cow dung and horse poo. Animals, particularly rabbits, also spread fire.”

While the Gunning blaze lies dormant, the district remains at high risk of further fire.

Mr Dyce described the conditions as some of the worst he’d seen.

High temperatures, heavy winds and low humidity were major factors in the Bureau of Meteorology and Rural Fire Service’s combined decision to declare the Goulburn district a catastrophic risk of fire.

“Conditions would be equal to some of the worst I’ve seen in my career,” Mr Dyce said.

Emergency service members continue to monitor fire risks from its Combermere Street headquarters.

Goulburn Mulwaree Council employees yesterday established a second emergency services headquarters in the council chambers in Bourke Street.

Stations around the region remain manned in readiness for further fires, while scores of volunteer fire fighters are on call.

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