A planned burn off at Cape Clear on Sunday was briefly thrown off course when a passerby’s ute caught fire.
Crews were almost 20-kilometres into a 42-kilometre roadside burn off along Rokewood-Skipton Road when a ute’s transmission line burst, dumping fluid onto the exhaust and causing the vehicle to catch fire, Cape Clear Fire Brigade Captain Michael Rowe said.
Low winds allowed the CFA to carry out the burn – which creates a fire break across the shire – about a month earlier than in previous years.
“This year has been exceptional, everything lined up perfectly – even though we had a car blow a transmission line and catch fire in the middle of what we’re doing,” Mr Rowe said.
“It was just a member of the public passing through and it just happened to happen just beside us.
“Two people ran down the road to it, quicker than what the trucks could turn and drive back to it.
“It looked nasty but we just chucked a bit of water on it and dispersed it pretty quick.”
Had crews been just 10 minutes away the ute would have burned to the ground, Mr Rowe said.
The scene was cleared in about an hour and the ute salvaged.
“By the time he would have got out of the car and called the fire brigade the car would have been fully engulfed.
“It would have burned the car and potentially kept going.”
Brigades had a “really narrow window” to carry out the burn off before temperatures rose above 30 degrees on Monday and Tuesday, CFA wildfire inspector Mark Spencely said.
The burn off has previously been carried out in late February or early March.
The 30-metre break was “plenty to stop a grass fire”, he said.
“Having that in early is a huge advantage because if we do get anything from the north at this point, the ability to actually pull it up here would be greatly improved.
“This year there’s more grass which means a grass fire will have more fuel and burn faster.”
The roadside burn off started from the Mount Misery Creek and stretch along Rokewood-Skipton Road through to Gillespies Road at Mannibadar.
Local brigades credit the burn off with thwarting two fires in the last decade, one just five years ago.
“It's very significant, it's stopped fires in the past on many occasions,” Mr Rowe said.
“It's very relaxing to have it done, it takes the stress out of your summer.”
The burn off involved 14 brigades and about 70 people including representatives from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.