There may not have been any serious bushfires in northern New South Wales in 1941, but by the end of the following year the local authorities were gearing up for another big fire season.
Bush Fire Prevention
Police, Shire Council to Form Bush Brigades
Members of Murwillumbah police force and Tweed Shire Council were appointed at a public meeting at Murwillumbah yesterday as a central bush fire brigade control committee to organize the formation of bush fire brigades at all country centres throughout the Murwillumbah police patrol. It was emphasized that it was intended that the organization should be permanent and not merely for the duration of the war.
The Winter of 1943 was very cold and dry on the northern rivers of New South Wales and the farmers knew it would be an early start to the fire season. By the middle of September, their fears had been realized.
Fires in the South Arm Area
Several bushfires were burning last night in the Kunghur, Terragon and Midginbjl districts.
So far they have not caused any serious damage, the burnt country being mostly bladey grass and rubbish. but it was stated last right that if a strong wind sprang up today the fires would be likely to menace valuable property. After recent rain, a number of farmers lit fires to burn off rubbish on their properties and some of these got out of control when fanned by a strong wind.
The strongest gale for nine years blew at Kunghur last Saturday, causing the fires to leap from tree to tree. One big fire burning from Byrrill Creek towards Blue Knob was reported last night to be only two miles from Kunghur village in the direction of Kyogle. A number of men were fighting this blaze last night in an effort to prevent it from getting out of hand if a strong wind rises today.
South Arm Fires Out of Control
Driven by the worst gale experienced for years, bushfires raging throughout the Upper South Arm area were out of control last night, stated a late report from Kunghur.
Two farm homesteads on the Kunghur-Mount Burrell Road, those of Mr. Arthur Baxter and Mr. C. McMahon, were being menaced and firefighters were standing by to put out sparks and bits of burning timber whirled on to the buildings by the strong wind.
No injury to persons or stock losses were reported.
At Mr. McMahon’s property cattle were herded for safety into a small paddock near the home.
A fire also was burning fiercely on Mr. C. T. Grant’s Mt. Burrell farm. Practically the whole of Mt, Burrell was alight and fires were raging along the Kyogle Road. Another fire was racing towards the Nimbin Road, while a fire at Byrrill Creek was sweeping towards Kunghur and was expected to link with the fire in McMahon’s farm. A new fire broke out yesterday at Kunghur Creek, and at the top of Perch Creek last night a big fire was sweeping through the back of a number of properties, including
those of Messrs R. A. Clark, E. W. Roberts, and W H Smith. A fire also appeared to be burning at Terragon, the report added.
60 Miles an Hour Gusts
Efforts made on Tuesday night to minimize the danger of the fires breaking out again were reduced to naught when a terrific gale sprang up about. 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon. Old residents said it was the worst they could remember, some of the gusts being estimated at 60 miles an hour.
The wind fanned the smouldering fires and they quickly began to sweep onward, burning valuable grassland.
Last night, it was stated, the glow of fires lit the countryside at Kunghur as brightly as moonlight.
If the weather does not change: it is expected that thousands of acres of grassland will be burnt.
A later report at midnight stated that fresh fires were springing up in many directions, apparently as the wind whipped smouldering logs into flame. The wind was still as fierce as ever. Some telephone lines were out of commission, apparently due to the wires having been crossed by the wind or being broken down by falling limbs.
The countryside in the district is extremely dry. The rainfall so far this year has amounted to only 21.55 inches, the lowest for 20 years.
South Arm fires Under Control
All the Bushfires in the Upper South Arm area were under control early last night, according to a report from the Kunghur correspondent of the Tweed Daily.
The strong gale which blew on Wednesday night dropped about 2 a.m. yesterday the gangs of firefighters were able to burn breaks. Women and children assisted the men in the early morning to get the job done quickly in case the gale sprang up again. The day was comparatively calm and the opinion was expressed that unless a further heavy gale occurred the position was safe.
Mr. C. McMahon. a farmer on the Kunghur-Mount Burrell road, was the heaviest sufferer, losing about 400 acres of’ grassland including 300 acres of a 316-acre block and 100 acres of a 640-acre block and 100 acres of a 640-acre in the same vicinity, also had a fairly large area of grassland burnt
So far as is known, the fires at Perch Creek did not cause a great deal of damage.
Google Images-Australian Rural Firefighters-2020
The following November 1944 saw everyone on edge over bushfires and it looked as if it was going to be serious.
Destruction By Bushfire at Kunghur
A bushfire at Kunghur, started when a tree was struck by lightning nearly a fortnight ago, has caused some trouble for a week, and during the weekend many men were busy controlling it. About 100 acres of grass and valuable fences and gates have been destroyed.
The tree which started the fire was struck on Mr. C. M. McMahon’s property and spread through bladey grass and shrubbery along the Nimbin road.
Losses have not been heavy, and the work of the fire-fighters of the area has been directed towards confining the fire to Mc Mahon’s property. Some standing timber was burnt, and the dead trees caused blazes that lit up the countryside for miles each night.
The flames had died down largely by last night, though the smoke nuisance was unpleasant.
Yesterday the thermometer at Kunghur post office reached 103 degrees but it is doubtful whether the fires contributed towards this degree of heat. On Sunday, when the fire was a little worse, the temperature reached only 100 degrees.
By the end of 1945, the war had ended and all the young men returned home to take up farming again. However, they had hardly set foot on home soil when the fires broke out early.
Grass Fire Spreads at Byrrill Ck.
A grass and brush fire’ started at Byrrill Creek yesterday afternoon and
last night was reported to be spreading rapidly.
The area, particularly involved was that leased by Mr. Arthur Baxter from
Mr. Harry Solomon.
If the fire was not brought under control by this morning approximately
3000 acres of grassland in the Byrrill Creek-Kunghur area would be threatened, stated the Kunghur correspondent of The Tweed Daily.
Many cattle agisted in the area would be in danger if the fire was not controlled today and the owners of the cattle were advised to check up, in their own interests, early this morning, to ensure removal of their cattle from any area immediately threatened.
A small party of volunteers went to the outbreak,, but due to the dryness of the country and the wind then blowing it would be practically impossible to control the fire last night, added the correspondent.
The Upper South Arm farmers believed it was now time they banded together to have their own brigade and equipment close by when needed. Accordingly, a meeting was held in the Kunghur Hall on the 17th of August.
There was good support and Arthur Baxter was elected as President of the Fire Brigade Committee. A neighbour, Richard Jarrett was elected as Secretary with another neighbour, George Walters elected as Fire Captain. The McMahon’s who had been burned out on previous occasions during the war had sold up and retired to Murwillumbah. George Walters had purchased their farm on the Upper South Arm at Kunghur.
The farmers on the Upper South Arm felt more secure now that they had their own brigade and equipment close by. James Arthur (Jim) Baxter, Arthur’s only son also joined the brigade, when he returned from war service. He was a member for over fifty years, many of which he served as Fire Captain.