Bushfire devastates Murray Mallee farming community

THE speed and ferocity of Thursday's Yumali fire is a prime example of the dangers faced this bushfire season, according to the Country Fire Service (CFS).

The Yumali fire burnt about 5000 hectares of crop, grass and scrub and with a home and a shed lost.

The CFS reported the fire was started by SA Power infrastructure and SA Power Networks were working with fire cause investigators.

Gwyn Pickering, whose Netherton property was in the fire's path, said he estimated it took about 10 minutes for the front to burn over three kilometres.

"It came through so bloody quickly, we though we were in front of it but it just jumped over the top of us," he said.

"We were trying to save a hay stack at one point but we just had to bail.

"It was going through the barley crop and it was so hot the neighbour's windows shattered."

He said the fire left a path of destruction taking out a nearby shearing shed and an implement shed with a header inside.

The fire raged through his barley crops and while Mr Pickering stopped short of putting a cost on his losses, niece Laura Ragless - who rushed to help from her property - said the damage bill would exceed $300,000.

"With how fast it moved there wasn't a lot we could do, we couldn't get on front of it ... one minute you are safe thinking we've got this, the next minute it is on you - it was scary," she said.

CFS along with Farm Fire Units, Department of Environment and Water (DEW) crews and earth moving machinery have been actively working overnight to control this fire and are continuing to strengthen control lines.

Ms Ragless said the farming community banded and did a "unbelievable job" as first responders with their fire units and the actions of land owners and neighbours helped mitigate any further losses.

"The amount of farmers that came from farm and wide to help was unbelievable .. there were people in the properties we didn't even know,"

Kane McDonald was one of those who raced from his property at Tailem Bend to help out and said things got "hectic" but he felt they managed to save further damage.

Country Fire Service state duty commander Yvette Dowling said extra growth from late winter rains in areas that are yet to be harvested increased the risk of fast-moving fires

"When fire enters crops or heavily grassed areas, we see very fast-moving fire," Ms Dowling said.

"The Yumali fire consumed almost 5,000 hectares in four hours ... the fire travelled with such speed that it was not safe for us to put our trucks in front of it in an attempt to extinguish

"The fire burned with such ferocity that at times it was difficult for our firebombers to attack the flames."

The CFS air fleet completed 48 drops of firefighting products onto the fire, totalling more than 110,000 litres of product dropped from above.

Two people were injured during the fire.

A CFS four-wheel drive was involved in a head-on collision with a private vehicle on the fireground, with all occupants cleared of major injuries.

Ms Dowling said the fire served as an early reminder for people to have a Bushfire Survival Plan.

"Even though we have had recent rainfall and cooler conditions, there is still a great potential for large scale fires," she said,

"You need to ensure your property is cleaned up now, and you have a Bushfire Survival Plan."

- Details: More details on how to create a Bushfire Survival Plan can be found at cfs.sa.gov.au