The normally rich pastoral and orchard district of Wingello is today a picture of desolation and destruction.
The normally rich pastoral and orchard district of Wingello is today a picture of desolation and destruction. The little township fell prey to the long arm of fire which swept more than 300-square miles of the Southern Tablelands at the weekend. The fire destroyed about 30-houses in and around Wingello. In the middle of the town it left standing only the brickwork, a sort of weird, blackened Stonehenge.
People at Wingello said the speed of the fire was unbelievable. "Suddenly there was a tremendous wind all round the town and everything was bursting into flames."
As well as the houses, the Wingello School, two sawmills and a service station were badly damaged or destroyed. Tremendous damage was also done to grazing properties and stands of valuable timber in pine forests and private plantations.
It was no easier on poultry or livestock.
Late yesterday, graziers had to shoot about 500 cattle whose hides had been badly burnt. A detailed rally of stock and property losses on the Southern Tablelands may not be known for some days.
There was no hope for the vehicles left in the path of the flames. One or two trucks were thought to be safe inside their sheds. They were not.
A drive along a Wingello street showed how the fire missed one house then wiped out the next. Luck played a big part in saving homes as the fire danced its patchwork pattern. Police now report that all the people left homeless at Wingello and nearby Tallong have been put up in temporary accommodation at Moss Vale and Goulburn. No injuries were reported from the fires in this area.
At Nowra, the fires came within 400-yards of residential areas. Properties were saved by a change in wind and the relentless efforts of the firefighters. The long hours spent cutting and burning firebreaks paid off handsomely. The driving arm of the fire near Nowra now appears to have been checked. There is still plenty of work for the Naval ratings and soldiers who were called in to help fight the fires.
At Currarong near Nowra, many homes escaped destruction but at least four did not. A poultry farm was also lost and scores of chickens died. It was a black weekend for the Southern Tablelands.