Blaze sweeps through Arnold eucalyptus distillery

FIRE crews worked for more than seven hours yesterday to extinguish a fire at an Arnold eucalyptus distillery.

Seven trucks from Marong, Bridgewater, Tarnagulla, Inglewood and Wedderburn were called to the distillery after a member of the public reported a plume of black smoke in the area about 11am.

Parks Victoria vehicles with slip-on firefighting equipment also helped battle the fire.

A Country Fire Authority spokeswoman said crews managed to contain the blaze shortly after 1pm. However, a smouldering 100-metre pile of eucalyptus mulch was not completely put out until 5.30pm.

Bridgewater CFA captain Tim Ferguson said firefighters endured the lengthy process of separating the mulch by hand in order to extinguish it.

District 20 operations manager John Cutting said the small factory near Inglewood, which makes eucalyptus oil, sustained major electrical damage in the fire.

Mr Ferguson estimated the damage to be in the thousands. “Structurally the building remains quite sound, but they will have to rewire it all,” he said.

The owners of the Kingower-Arnold Road business told Mr Ferguson there had not been a fire at the distillery for 120 years.

Early reports suggested an electrical fault had started the blaze, but upon further inspection crews were not so sure.

“It’s hard to say at this stage,” Mr Ferguson said. “I think it may have been started by a boiler.”

A water-bombing aircraft was also called in yesterday to help fight a bushfire that destroyed 100 acres five kilometres north of Charlton. The incident was only the second time the aircraft has been used this season.

An unattended camp fire is believed to have started the blaze at the Calder Highway property.

Meanwhile, the CFA has declared that fire restrictions will begin for the following municipalities: Swan Hill Rural City Council; Hindmarsh Shire Council; Yarriambiack Shire Council; Yarriambiack Shire Council; and  Horsham Rural City Council.

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