WAMMCO spared during Katanning fires

WAMMCO spared during Katanning fires

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The Katanning fire which threatened WAMMCO abattoir and destroyed one home and damaged some others. Photo by Peter Rundle.

The Katanning fire which threatened WAMMCO abattoir and destroyed one home and damaged some others. Photo by Peter Rundle.

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Katanning sheep processor The WA Meat Marketing Co-operative (WAMMCO) had a close call two weeks ago after a fire burnt through a quarter of its farm area threatening the abattoir.

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KATANNING sheep processor The WA Meat Marketing Co-operative (WAMMCO) had a close call two weeks ago after a fire burnt through a quarter of its farm area threatening the abattoir.

WAMMCO chief executive officer Coll MacRury said they were lucky to escape without any stock losses or damage to the facilities.

"We have 1000 acres (404 hectares) of farmland around the site and the fire burnt a quarter of that," Mr MacRury said.

"It got fences and cables and knocked the power out, so we were out of action on Sunday until the afternoon.

"There's also some trees down on the perimeter."

Mr MacRury said the fire, which burnt through about 4000ha in the Katanning area and destroyed at least one home, while damaging others, was fuelled by above 40 degrees Celsius temperatures and strong winds.

Workers were busy putting out spot fires as they appeared on the property.

"We had a lot of stock grazing on the farm so it kept the grass short, which was a blessing in disguise," he said.

WAMMCO held off some consignments of lambs until Monday of last week, which allowed them to clear 1300 head of mutton which they had in the paddock.

"We ended up not losing any time on the floor at all," he said.

The Nationals WA MP for Roe Peter Rundle said the fire "was quite frightening".

"I've never experienced a fire like that," Mr Rundle said.

He said it was fortunate that he had his farm fire unit, a ute with a 1000 litre water tank, ready to be able to help out.

Mr Rundle said the weather conditions saw the fire produce a lot of smoke as it jumped between tree branches, reducing visibility and impacting the way in which the fire could be fought.

"We couldn't see what was happening and had to work from the side and back of it," he said.

Mr Rundle said one of his "biggest worries" was the WAMMCO abattoir.

"Losing the plant would have been a massive loss for the whole region," he said.

Mr MacRury said he didn't know what they would have done had the facility fallen victim to the fire.

Mr Rundle said over the course of fighting the fire there was "a really good demonstration of how volunteers and farmers worked together", along with water bombers protecting houses.

"We had fantastic support from other fire units and shires as well," Mr Rundle said.

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