A fire that started beside the railway line four miles north of Benalla at 9am, last Wednesday, threatened a repetition of the 1952 Lurg disaster, with increasing heat and high winds.
Breaking out in three separate places, the fire jumped the Hume Hwy and the CRB break and entered grass lands, narrowly missing two lots of cattle and fanned out on a three-mile front, heading towards Lurg, Upper Lurg and Molyullah.
Whipped by hot gale-force winds, the fire raged out of control, but with the arrival of more than 50 fire units, some called in from 100 miles away, and 250 firefighters, it was contained by 7pm.
Closest to the line and in the path of the fire was the home of Mr Joe Joyce, which was saved by neighbours, as well as a well-fitted shed.
By this time 100 head of cattle on the opposite side of the highway were rounded up by Mr Jack Lynch in one corner of the paddock, and luckily the flames swept past.
Flames in four directions
The wind changes and the flames spread in four directions, ‘‘The fire just exploded,’’ Benalla Group Officer Mr Jack Sergeant said and the fire headed for the Lurg school, with children being vacated hours earlier.
Fireman, who had set up their field headquarters at the school, had a hard job to save it, while one of the prongs of the fire passed underneath a Forest Commission fire spotting tower while the spotter radioed for help.