About 50 hectares of grass was burnt 3km east of Corowa last Wednesday after a car travelling on the Hopefield-Rand Road pulled over when a fire started in the vehicle, spreading to nearby grass.
The incident happened shortly after 1pm with the Riverina Highway and Rand Road closed for safety reasons during the afternoon.
It has prompted the NSW Rural Fire Service to issue a warning to drivers who may pull over on the roadside to take a phone call, which can result in the hot exhaust system under the car igniting dry grass.
While the RFS is not certain how this vehicle fire started, they have seen a rise in roadside ignitions due to hot exhaust systems.
More than 20 RFS appliances from Albury and surrounds attended the scene to bring the fire under control with Corowa Fire and Rescue also responding.
More RFS crews from Albury and surrounds attended the scene later in the afternoon and worked into the evening to ensure the timber that was alight was extinguished.
NSW RFS Southern Border Superintendent Pat Westwood said the fire burnt about 50 hectares of grass on the road reserve and on private land.
“We are thankful for the Corowa Fire and Rescue crew for their help on the day and our local crews managed to contain the spread of the fire before it reached the Riverina Highway,” he said.
“Overall all the crews and agencies worked really well together to bring it under control so quickly, the fire had potential to run a significant distance.
“The rate of fire could have exceeded 5km/h, which is quite fast for a grass fire.
“The fire was aided by some strong winds in the afternoon.
“It’s a reminder for people to be aware of their surroundings when they are driving on country roads, especially being wary of the fact that it is a common thing for ignitions to start from vehicles pulling over in long grass to answer the phone or the like.”
Mr Westwood said there had been a lot of fires over the past four weeks from lightning and storms that occurred in the Corowa area.
“There have also been some suspicious ignitions in the Corowa area and we are asking people to contact Crime Stoppers if they see anyone acting suspicious,” he told the Free Press.
“All the crews have been working very hard over the last month.
“We are working very closely with NSW Police and our fire investigation unit to look into the suspicious fires.”