The headlines in The Courier read "Blackest Friday in Ballarat's history. Series of devastating fires, homes burnt and Case Factory destroyed. Water Commission's £50,000 loss". In a nutshell they tell the story of Friday 13th January, 1939, (Black Friday), the day on which fire ravaged Leigh Creek, an event which many say was instrumental in the formation of the Bungaree Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade.
The Courier of Monday 16th January, 1939 reported: "One of the most desperate struggles to save property took place in the early hours of Saturday morning at the home of Mr. Harry Burke at Leigh Creek. About 50 men fought the advancing flames in nearby grass and stubble paddocks, and the position became so critical that a further body of volunteers removed the contents of the homestead to the doubtful safety of a potato paddock. The house was saved."
Mrs. Monica Burke remembers Black Friday vividly. She was then 24, not married (her maiden name was Frawley), and was working as a housekeeper at Charlie O'Donohue's. Mrs. Burke said all that was left at O'Donohue's were the chimneys, lavatory and cow bail, and all that was saved from inside the house were a fountain, two kettles filled with water and a saucepan with some soup in it. Mrs. Burke said Frank O'Donohue later described the fire as "hell let loose."
Read about more fire fighting action.