Gunning grass fire threatens Hume Highway

Rural homes near Gunning came close to being engulfed in a grass fire on Wednesday that burnt 630 hectares and threatened to close part of the Hume Highway.

Up to 100 sheep were lost in the fire and other livestock had been badly burnt and would  probably need to be put down.

Paul Best from the NSW Rural Fire Service said he was notified of the fire shortly before 2pm, it had been contained by 5.20pm and was brought under control by 8pm.

The dynamic and fast moving blaze came within 200 metres to 300 metres of Gunning homes, but crews were able to protect them.​

Mr Best said 185 firefighters in 56 vehicles from Rural Fire Service and Fire & Rescue NSW battled the blaze.

"They will continue to work on it overnight, but as the situation starts to resolve a lot of those firefighters will be released," he said.


Three water bombing aircraft from Goulburn, Orange and Bathurst and a VLAT DC10 air tanker from Sydney – "the Southern Belle" – also tackled the fire.

Throughout the afternoon, thick smoke restricted visibility on the Hume Highway, 30 kilometres east of Yass. It had mostly cleared by 7.30pm.

Mr Best said a number of livestock were destroyed by the fire.  "The Rural Fire Service have been in contact with the Department of Primary Industries in NSW in relation to that," he said.

"It was a very fast moving grass fire ... and as you can tell by the size of the fire,  it certainly was of concern there for a while."

Local resident Greg McGrath was in Yass when he heard the news that a fire was at the border of his property on the Lerida Fish River, approximately two kilometres from Gunning.

"I was able to rush home and found it was just at the borderline, we were able to get all our sheep out of the line of fire," he said.

"There was a heap of country burnt all around us, you can see there is around 800 hectares burnt."

Although Mr McGrath was spared the worst, many of his neighbours weren't as fortunate.

"There are a few hundred sheep that have died on neighbouring properties, they have just called in the district vet to, I suppose, put down the rest."

"Excavators have been called in, as it has just burnt through the hollows of the trees. At this point the fire is under control but that can change at any time. There's a lot of work that is needed to be done."

Despite the slight spattering of rain,  more than 20 RFS units will stay at the site of the fire overnight to keep it contained.

"We were so lucky we didn't lose any stock or fencing," Mr McGrath said.

"I have to say when they started dropping the water from those planes it was amazing, I have never seen anything like it."

Despite the devastating loss of farmland and livestock for the small community of Gunning,  Mr McGrath is certain that, with a bit of work, they can rebuild what was once there.

"No one likes a fire ... What else do you do but pick up the pieces," he continued.

"Tomorrow will be a bit of work and the mop up will take days if not the week, then we just get up and do it all again.  

With the Yass Tribube