PHOTOS, VIDEO: Stockinbingal fire leaves community unscathed

Source: The Daily Advertiser

THE small community of Stockinbingal miraculously escaped unscathed after being under threat from an out of control grass fire. 

At the height of the blaze 200 firefighters worked to bring it under control, assisted by at least six water bombing aircraft and helicopters.

Residents - and anyone who didn't need to be there - were told to leave shortly before 7.30pm as a strong southerly change pushed the fire, which was skirting the town, towards it. 

The Rural Fire Service reported the fire - which had burned 3600 hectares - passed Stockinbingal to the east and west.

HOW IT UNFOLDED: Rolling coverage

RFS spokesman Ben Shepherd said the fire had basically gone around the town.

"At this stage (there are) no reported property loss, but we have seen the fire burn some unharvested crops so that will need to be assessed tomorrow plus any fence loss and potential stock loss," Mr Shepherd said.

"Fire investigation has been requested, that's not saying it suspicious, but to determine where it originated from and what may have caused the fire to start in the first place."

An emergency SMS was issued shortly after 6.30pm warning of the imminent danger and urging people to remain alert. 

As the flames crept closer residents scrambled to pack their possessions, with police knocking on doors - once to warn, the second time came with a warning to get out immediately. 

Just before 9pm, the emergency warning was downgraded to a watch and act level as conditions began to ease and light showers started to fall on the fire ground.

As the fire approached town, South West Slopes RFS zone group captain Keith Butt toldThe Daily Advertiser it was a "difficult fire" that was spotting a large distance from the main front. 

"Everyone's on fire protection mode trying to do what they can," Mr Butt said at the time. 

Val Young who lives on the Burley Griffin Way just west of town, left her home earlier in the afternoon.

But she only went as far as the Stockinbingal RFS shed where she was found preparing food for crews fighting to bring the blaze under control. 

The fire, which began near Springdale early afternoon, forced the closure of the Burley Griffin Way, along with a number of other local roads. 

Two graders were seen leaving Stockinbingal as the front approached, with back burning carried out along the highway in a bid to halt the spread of fire.

Conditions were described as "hot and dry" throughout the afternoon with harvesting forced to stop in Cootamundra, Young and Boorowa and surrounding areas.

The fire was being brought under control with firefighters working to establish further containment lines.

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