Grim Fight To Save Town

15 February 1962 The Canberra Times


Wagga, Wednesday. More than 200 firemen and volunteers to-night were fighting a fire which threatened to destroy the Southern New South Wales town of Batlow.

The fire, which broke out about 9 p.m., was still burning fiercely two hours later.

The blaze destroyed a 100,000 fruit-packing plant employing about 400 people.

Sparks from flames leaping 100ft. into the air, drifted across the town as firemen tried to stop the fire spreading to nearby houses and the shopping centre.

Late to-night Batlow authorities sent an urgent appeal to nearby towns for assistance.

Exhausted firemen at Bat- low said they had confined the blaze to the fruit packing plant but feared more out-breaks from strong winds.

Brigades from Tumut and Tumbarumba reached the fire about 11.30 p.m., just as flames burst out afresh.

With the destruction of the packing and canning factory, fruit growers face the possibility of losing their crops.

The fruit harvest has just started. Only a small percentage of the pear crop has been gathered and the apple crop is untouched.

Growers depended on the factory's cool room to store their fruit.