Tuesday , January 26 2021

Bus stop dumping Victor Harbor Rd: We were lucky, say residents

"Hard fire fighting" and a stroke of generosity by Mother Nature helped to avoid a serious fire disaster at Mt Compass on Sunday.

The fire started at the intersection of Victor Harbor Road and Cleland Gully Road just before 11.30am and it quickly rushed unsupervised, preventing strong northern winds.

More than 30 fire crews, two water bombs, two helicopters and spiders were brought into force, as the CFS was trying to bring the fire under control before the anticipated wind change of the southwest.

Many homes became threatened, the closest call was at the home of Cleland Gully Rd Karensa Gepp.

Ms Gepp was 80km of home at a wedding in Outer Harbor when she received a phone call to warn her from the flame.

Still in her formal blue dress and dressing shoes, Ms. Gepp, her children and others spend hours in a fire fires to keep their home safe.

media_cameraKarensa Gepp with her daughter, Montana Clark, is preparing to fight fireworks close to their home at Mt Compass. Photo: AAP / Dean Martin

"He probably started by the way up there, he went to the shops (in Mt Compass, about a mile away) and when he left, there was a small fire in place, and by he came back he was a wall of flame, "Ms Gepp said.

Her daughter Montana Clark, 16, was not inside the home aware that the fire was not down on the property until she saw a job on the web.

Ms. Gepp's son, Weylin Clark, aged 18, was also in Adelaide and drove back to a property found within a meter of his / her home.

"His friend told him that there was a fire, he hears me, I'll call my daughter sitting in her room and just find a fire," said Ms Gepp.

"My infants have been shot. I had three sheep and only they were in September, they were the first ones I had."

media_cameraMontana Clark, who's up after bicycles. Photo: AAP / Dean Martin
media_cameraKarensa Gepp, putting a fierce fire near her house, was still in the dress she was wearing to a wedding in Adelaide. Photo: Dean Martin / AAP

Weylin said he was driving back from Mile End to find his family's hobbies farm mostly wound up while water bombs dropped a lot of fires off to protect the home.

"Everything had gone, and there were still many fires everywhere, the wind continues to move around so it's sure it could have been worse," he said.

The heat intensified most of the items inside a metal container near the house, while a greenhouse and several small sheds were also destroyed.

At 3pm, the south wind wind changed the front of the fire to swing again, as fire crews rushed into neighboring property properties of Ms Gepp.

Water bombs dropped repeatedly over the area, focusing on an area of ​​dense trees and a neighboring alpaca farm, and CFS said there was a lost fence but not one of the animals.

Peter Mew, CFS event manager, said the fire started just before 11.30am, creating two sides of fire along Cleland Gully Road, which borders the main Victor Harbor Road.

Mr Mew said when the fire was controlled by the end of the Sunday, fire crews would stay in the area through the night.

media_cameraCFS is going to tackle a fire at Mt Compass. Photo: Neil Edwards

"We are not out of the forest yet, it still has a lot of potential," he said.

"But we want to get it under control so at least the community can go back to their homes and property." Mr Mew said.

Despite the intensity of the flame, Mr Mew said, it was believed that the damage was limited to hay shed, a significant amount of fence, but homes were not lost.

"You have to praise what they have done to beat this one at the top – it has been fighting hard fire," said Mr Mew.

He said the air assault was crucial to stopping the skipping and burning tips further eastward towards the dense Cox Depression and Ashbourne town.

"Without them, we would have been in stress," said Mr Mew.

"Water bombs do not put out the fire but they stop the spread spread rate and give time for land crews to reorganize and come in there."

media_cameraWaterboat dumping water on Compass sea bundle. Photo: Dean Martin / AAP

Mr Mew praised "the tremendous support" of the community of Mt Compass, including the local hotel that provided water and dishes to those who returned from the front of a fire.

"About 90 hectares is what we've lost but we've succeeded in doing so through hard work and good planning from our headteachers and those in the field, "he said.

Investigations continued to see how the fire had started, said Mr Mew.

"The police researchers and CFS are looking at the origin and cause of this fire, at the moment I can not tell you what caused it," he said.

Mr Mew said that the southwest wind change did not happen so quickly as anticipated, giving firefighters more time to control it.

"We were lucky enough to not have the kind of conditions anticipated at the time, it was a gradual change that gave the window that opportunity for us to do something with it," he said.

Another resident Cleland Gully Rd, Jodie Davis, washed the clothes line when the ominous smoke saw the area.

media_cameraA water bomb is analyzed near the Cleland Gully road near Mt. Compass. Photo: Dean Martin / AAP
media_cameraA water bomb is destroyed near Cleland Gully Road. Photo: Dean Martin / AAP

"We're home and I walk outside and see all the smoke and fire come to us and know that we are in trouble, once the winds have changed the direction she came , she does not stop, "said Ms Davis.

Along with adult children, Ms Davis bundled her six pounds and her to the car and sent her sister's home security.

Ms Davis had yet returned home but hoped the stock could survive.

"The horse is in the garage, he's alive, but he was down in the paddock but he was stupid," he said.

"My husband caught him and got in while the fire crews surrounded the house and put the fire out."

Ms Davis was grateful to the firefighters and local community members joining Cleland Gully Road every afternoon.

She had one word about the result.

"Lucky, the house, of importance, is not important to property. As long as the family is safe," said Ms Davis.

media_cameraCangŵl near Cleland Gully Road near Mt. Compass. Photo: Dean Martin / AAP

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