Header malfunction sparks Prairie blaze

A HEADER malfunction was the cause of an extensive grass fire on a grain farmer’s property in Prairie, near Dingee, yesterday.

The header was destroyed and 60 acres of oat crop was damaged in the fire on Wallys Lane and Bendigo-Pyramid Road.

Fourteen trucks and two aircraft were called out to the blaze at 3.30pm yesterday.

Strong winds ensured the fire quickly spread through the crop, nearing the train line, before authorities brought the fire under control just before 5pm.

Train sleepers were also damaged, but V/Line spokesman James Kelly said trains were not delayed.

Farmer Allan Wiltshire said he was harvesting his crop when an unknown machinery malfunction caused a spark.

He said he got out of the header and attempted to extinguish the flame before calling authorities. “I wish I knew (what caused it),” he said. “I jumped out pretty quickly. 

“It dropped down into the unharvested crops and started spreading so we had to call the fire crews.”

Mr Wiltshire said the cost of the fire would be significant.

“It’s burnt through 60 acres and the header is destroyed,” he said.

Mr Wiltsure said it wasn’t a case of not being fire-prepared.

“It’s a cool day so it wasn’t like you would expect this to happen.”

Bendigo CFA senior station officer Mick Lavery said it acted as a warning for all farmers in the harvest period.

“Be careful working in hot and windy weather and make sure you check weather conditions,” he said.

“Make sure your machinery is prepared and in good operational order.”

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