As the summer approaches with the grass lands and the bush drying out, it is fitting that we should reflect on a disasterous bush fire that occurred to the south of the Arcadia area fifty three years ago next January. It is a reminder that on bad fire days bad fires occur, whether by accident or deliberate the results can be disasterous. This fire claimed the lives of seven people, burnt seven homes, thirty nine hay sheds, 44,000 head of stock, 88,000 acres of pasture, hundreds of kilometres of fencing; these were just some of the major losses as a result of this fire.
January 17th 1965 was a very hot day with a strong northerly wind, it was a day of total fire ban. About mid-day a fire started on the Murchison / Violet Town Road about halfway between Moorilim and Miepoll and quickly took hold, burning in a southerly direction towards Longwood. All available resources were thrown in to the fight to stop the fire, but it’s speed was so quick that little could be done to stop it in any meaningful way. It must be remembered that the CFA’s fire fighting capabilities were no where near as good as they are today. Not all brigades had fire trucks, this was the case with our own Arcadia Brigade, a tank and motor unit which was kept on a local farm had to be loaded on to a farmers truck.
The inventory for the Arcadia Brigade in 1960 was as follows: one tank and power pump, 28 knapsacks and 24 fire beaters, this had not changed much by 1965. Radio had just been introduced to local brigades, we had one radio which was used by the captain of the brigade. Arcadia received it’s first fire fighting tanker in December 1977, it was an Austin Small Town Tanker.
The following reports from the Shepparton News tells the story of this disasterous day.