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Give Tumut Pre-school a break

An indication of how close the fire got to the Tumut Community Pre-School.

Tumut Community Pre-School Service Manager Tess Herring is urging council to do more to clean up McFarlane’s Creek park after another fire threatened the pre-school on Wednesday.

The park backs onto the preschool and Wednesday’s fire got to within two metres of the fence, causing the children and staff to be evacuated to a safe zone.

“This is the second fire we have had there this term (the previous fire burnt almost the same area),” Ms Herring said.

“We are really concerned because the area there is overgrown and unkempt.

There are trees there that have been cut down and just left there. We are right on the boundary. We were lucky there was no wind today; if it gets into the trees, our preschool is at risk.”

A preschool supervising staff member heard a crackling sound around midday on Wednesday and looked over the fence and saw smoke and flames in the park. Emergency procedures were activated; with children evacuated to a safe zone, emergency services called and staff using the preschool hoses to battle the fire.

A Tumut Fire and Rescue tanker and crew were soon on the scene, and were joined by a National Parks crew. The fire burnt from down near the park’s path up to within two metres of the back fence of the preschool. It burnt an area of about 50 square metres and was soon extinguished by the firefighters. Police are investigating the cause of the fire, and it is believed it was either deliberately lit or started by a discarded cigarette butt.

“It traumatises the kids because they are so little,” Ms Herring said.

Ms Herring has raised a Corrective Action Notice with council, and has been communicating with council staff about the issue.

“Recently council slashed and sprayed there, but there are still saplings and trees and rubbish there,” she said. “We really want council to clear it. There needs to be a risk management plan. We don’t own that land so we are at their mercy really.”

A Snowy Valleys Council spokesperson said the council’s outdoor teams will do an assessment in the new year and work on a solution for the area.