Year
1939

The caption below the middle photograph above read:
“WITHIN ONLY ONE HUNDRED YARDS OF THE POWER-HOUSE AT YALLOURN, this bush fire swept through timbered country yesterday. Only the change in the direction of the wind saved the township from destruction...”
THE PAGE ONE ARTICLE ABOUT THE FIRES AT YALLOURN
The article on the front page of the same newspaper read as follows:
THREE-MILE FRONT OUTBREAK AT YALLOURN
Menaced by the worst bush fire in the history of Yallourn, the townships of Haunted Hills, Yallourn, and Brown Coal Mine, and the State Electricity Commission's power station and briquette factory were saved from destruction yesterday only by the united efforts of nearly 1,000 fire-fighters.
Many of the volunteers were brought from outlying districts to cope with the desperate emergency.
For more than a week a fire had been smouldering in the heavily timbered country to the west of Haunted Hills. When the northerly wind changed to the west yester-day morning the fire was revived and was soon burning fiercely on a front of nearly three miles. Roaring over the tree-tops, the flames swept toward the Haunted Hills, across the main Sale-Melbourne road and fire breaks, and up the gullies toward Yallourn. A house occupied by Mr. W. Toogood was destroyed.
Yallourn Fire Brigade, and hundreds of volunteers, turned out. Early in the afternoon the warning siren at the power station, which residents of Yallourn had not heard for years, was blown. Vehicles were commandeered to rush more volunteers to the fire front, and soon every available piece of fire-fighting apparatus in the district was in use.
Shortly afterward the streets of the township were invaded by hundreds of terrified kangaroos and possums, fleeing from the flames. The automatic sprinkling system in the open cut, designed to protect the coal face from fire by covering it with a thin film of water, was set in operation. A dense pall of smoke hung over the township, obscuring the outlines of buildings. Sparks were blown on to the powdered coal at the top of the steep haulage from the cut, and soon the sleepers were burning, but hoses quickly put out these flames.
To the west of the township the fire swept through thick timber toward the western camp, where nearly 800 employees of the commission live in weatherboard buildings.
A stack of about 500 tons of fire-1 wood owned by Mr. C. J. Pennington and another stack of 1,000 tons owned by Mr. H. Devine, a motor trailer, and a number of tyres and other accessories were destroyed on the way. The flames were checked as they reached the walls of the western camp.
The direction of the wind changed slightly and blew the fire between the open cut and the briquette factory, where thousands of tons of briquettes were loaded on trucks awaiting transit.
About 4.30pm, when it seemed that despite all efforts heavy damage would be done, the wind changed to the south-west. The danger to Yallourn and the electricity works was immediately reduced, but at the expense of an additional threat to the residents at the Brown Coal Mine, about a mile and a half to the north.

This article was prepared for the Virtual Yallourn website by Roger Spaull and Julie George in January 2020. Other photographs and articles related to bushfires at Yallourn can be found on this website.