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Fire cuts power to Bourke

Bourke IGA Manager Russell Riordan with all the perishable to be stripped from their shelves and thrown out. Photo TWH

Bourke’s schools, shops and businesses were all shut on Tuesday morning after a major bushfire at Girilambone cut power to areas west and northwest of the fire on Monday afternoon.

Almost 2,000 homes and businesses in the Bourke area were out of power from 3pm on Monday until Tuesday afternoon, affecting residents at Bourke, North Bourke, Wanaaring, Louth, Enngonia, Byrock, and surrounding areas.

Residents of affected areas had a hot, sleepless night without lights and air conditioning as temperatures had soared above 40 degrees on Monday and the mercury was still hovering around 30 degrees at 9pm.

An Essential Energy helicopter was deployed from Nyngan on Tuesday morning to patrol the electricity network to check for fire damage, and Essential Energy maintenance crews converged on the affected area to repair burnt out electricity poles and lines.

The Mitchell Highway was closed in both directions at Girilambone on Monday and Tuesday due to the large bushfire north of Railway Road.

Burnt trees that had fallen across the road during the fire had blocked traffic and authorities closed the road due to safety concerns for motorists.

A grass fire was also burning around Glenariff Station between Coolabah and Byrock.

An old homestead was lost at Girilambone and 3,000 acres were burn out as other isolated properties were threatened by the fire.

The blaze was under control by 8am on Tuesday a rural firefighters from as far away as Coonamble and Lightning Ridge were called in to battle the blaze overnight.

Motorists were advised to avoid the area and to detour via the Barrier Highway Cobar and then Kidman Way to Bourke.

Southbound motorists were advised to detour at Bourke via Kidman Way to Cobar then the Barrier Highway to Nyngan.

Power outage impacts food supplies

This week’s power outage caused chaos with food and petrol supplies in Bourke.

Bourke IGA store manager, Russell Reardon, said the outage meant perishable and frozen goods worth up to $100,000 had to be dumped, with another $50,000 worth of stock at risk.

Spar Supermarket owner, Chandra Kollipara, was preparing to stock the shelves of the newly rebuilt business ready for next week’s opening, but instead could do little but unload the delivery truck - and wait.

The dumping of so much food at IGA impacted businesses across Bourke, reliant on the only outlet for fresh produce in town.

“I’ve had to throw $100,000 worth of stock in the garbage bin - all the meat, all the dairy cabinet, the deli, the frozen food,” Russell said.

“Nobody came along and said sorry for the inconvenience caused and we had nothing but rumours and innuendo.

“The food in our cool rooms is still holding and we had a truck come in on Tuesday with fresh meat.

“We supply all the food in Bourke virtually, although the bakery buys direct from different suppliers, so the result could have been no fresh food by late on Thursday. […]

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