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  • Rikki Lambert

Another SA hay fire shows vigilance vital as prescribed burns delayed

A fire burns at Coles, near Lucindale in SA's south-east in January 2022

Approximately $230,000 worth of damage occurred on Monday morning from a hay shed fire in the Mallee in the latest incident of hay combusting, while the Department of Environment and Water has pushed back its scrubland prescribed burns due to wet conditions.

The hay fire at Copeville in the Mallee was attended by Halidon and Galga brigade vehicles this morning and suppressed with the landowner extinguishing the remainder. CFS spokesperson Rachel Guy urged:

"CFS encourages farmers to take care in storing and monitoring the moisture of hay this season. Just one damp bale is enough to ignite a haystack. If bales become damp, they should be stored separately and closely monitored."

The CFS alert on hay vigilance comes less than a week after their earlier warning that spontaneous combustion was possible in wet hay. On 1 November, Victoria's Country Fire Authority issued a similar warning about hay bales and the baling process itself.

The state's environmental department indicated on Monday morning it was pushing back parts of its spring prescribed burn program into autumn 2023, if not further back, due to wet conditions.

So far, 16 prescribed burns have been completed with 46 more previously scheduled for completion in what now are two remaining weeks of spring. Autumn's schedule includes 41 prescribed burns which will all now be managed as part of a rolling 3-year mitigation program.

Departmental spokesperson Fiona Gill said:

“If there’s a good weather window, then the program is flexible enough to complete more burns. But if conditions aren’t right on the day, a burn won’t go ahead and may be rolled over to the next season or year.”


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