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Twisted metal and blackened ruins are all that remain of Ederveen

Date

Stephanie Anderson

AFTERMATH: Ederveen owner Tom Webster sifts through his burnt-out equipment.

AFTERMATH: Ederveen owner Tom Webster sifts through his burnt-out equipment. Photo: Jay Cronan

The sound of helicopters overhead interrupted Tom Webster midsentence.

''The fires are still burning on Ederveen,'' he said, gesturing to the sky.

''They're trying to save what remains of our farm.''

UNRECOGNISABLE: Son Mark Webster with melted metal from his property.

UNRECOGNISABLE: Son Mark Webster with melted metal from his property. Photo: Jay Cronan

Twisted metal and the blackened ruins of a barbecue are all that is left standing after flames tore through a cottage on his Kybeyan Road property near Nimmitabel.

Mr Webster and worker Peter Williamson were on the ground until 11pm on Tuesday, trying to fight off the flames as they tore through grassland towards the three-bedroom building.

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As well as the cottage, the fine-wool farmer lost three four-wheel drives and a tractor as the fire hit the nearby fuel store of 2500 litres of diesel and 500 litres of petrol.

''We couldn't see, it was so intense,'' he said. ''Everything was black. By the time it hit the fuel dump, there was nothing we could do.''

It's been 11 years since Mr Webster took over the 1327-hectare property, now coated in black ash after numerous petrol drums flew into flames and a nearby tyre pile erupted in a ''huge fireball''.

In a seed bin amid the rubble, rye grass continued to smoulder two days after the blaze.

Standing next to a mass of blackened metal and melted glass, Mr Webster identified it as once being a ''perfectly good truck''.

''That used to be one of the most tricked-up Land Cruisers in the country,'' he said. ''It was just waiting for new tyres.''

The three trucks lost were all fuelled and ready to help battle the flames.

In the end, it was a battered blue truck that saved the main homestead.

''The old Bedford, that was our saving grace,'' he said. ''Started first time, we brought the fire to a standstill with it.''

The pair were evacuated just before midnight, returning on Wednesday to find the front garden alight just metres from the weatherboard homestead.

The view across the valley, thick with greenery in a photo hanging on the living room wall, is now blackened and smoking.

''It was like a scene from Dante's Inferno here the other night,'' he said.

''Once the danger had passed, it was amazing. As far as we could see was on fire.''

Despite his other losses, Mr Webster said he was lucky to have lost no stock in the blaze - although some made it through with slightly singed wool.

''Pete and I prepared the place, opened every gate so the stock could run,'' he said. ''Our biggest problem is going to be feed. We went from having grass two foot high to none. We've got 700 sheep to feed and no grass.''

Lack of feed is a growing concern among those affected by the Yarrabin fire, which has now burnt through more than 10,500 hectares near Cooma and Nimmitabel.

One firefighter has reported minor injuries after getting ash in his eyes, while there are confirmed losses of about 500 sheep.

The fire is one of the worst locals can remember, but Fred Nichols from the Cooma-Monaro Rural Fire Service said the situation for crews was pretty good on Thursday afternoon.

''We had the fire very stable … but we are expecting a whole weather change with winds swinging around to the north-west,'' he said.

''We are anticipating this changing the direction of the fire and beginning to act on the south-east fire line. It will push the fire back down the Kybeyan Valley.

''Potentially, we are going to have trouble holding this fire if weather conditions deteriorate much more.''

Between 18 and 20 ground crews were working on the blaze as the fire front moved across Kybeyan Station, about 20 kilometres from Nimmitabel.

''It's fairly isolated, rugged sort of country,'' Mr Nichols said.

''There's not a lot of fire trails there where we can get crews in on the ground.''

2 comments

  • Truly awful to see someone lose their livelihood like this. My heart goes out to all the victims of the bushfires. If we don't want to see ever-worsening heatwaves and bushfires then we need to fight global warming and get off fossil fuels.

    Commenter
    Deb
    Date and time
    January 11, 2013, 1:05PM
    • Hmm, let's compare events and the federal response shall we:

      QLD flood- federal government get's tough on the insurance companies who want to baulk at paying out claims.

      NSW fires (the last few days)- no government response or getting tough with insurance companies who will only pay out on stock losses if it's under the insurance companies terms. So, we are seeing farmers keep maimed sheep suffering while waiting for the insurance assessor to get to the property and see for themselves.

      Why?

      QLD flood saw polling point the finger at bligh for the dam water release.
      NSW fires of this last week sees nobody responsible for the fires, hence the government couldn't be #$%^&* in helping the farmers.

      For goodness sake, the rspca are the most USELESS body in Australia- you prosecute people for having a pet sheep in the city but you let THOUSANDS of sheep on farms suffer because of miserable insurance industry claim policy. What use are you?

      What on earth are you blokes doing eh?

      And peta, you miserable fools- you carry on about fur and baby seals but you remain stone cold silent on the livestock being left to wait for insurance company assessors.

      And you greens- where are you complaining about this insurance company practice? What, dolphins are more of a vote-gainer but livestock are losers?

      This policy is making animals suffer and the farmers who dare to put their half-cooked sheep out of their misery will not get a cent from the insurers.

      Commenter
      Alex
      Location
      Finley
      Date and time
      January 11, 2013, 5:02PM
      Comments are now closed

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