Locals join bushfire crisis

Locals join bushfire crisis


Parkes Champion Post

The state's bushfire crisis may have been a few hundred kilometres away from Parkes but local volunteers and fire fighters were part of this week's mammoth battle to save lives and property throughout the Blue Mountains and east of the ranges.

Volunteers from the Rural Fire Service's Mid Lachlan Valley team units including the shires of Parkes, Forbes, Lachlan and Cowra were deployed to the Blue Mountains to battle the state's major blaze near Lithgow.

Locals join bushfire crisisA local resident of Clarence sent these photos to the Champon Post to acknowledge the wonderful efforts of some local fire fighters. Laurie Hocking and Ron Hocking from Forbes Central and Matthew Hando from Parkes Headquarters  

All up seven volunteers from Parkes were part of a crew that operated two tankers over a three-day rotational shift.

During the height of Wednesday's 'catastrophic' warning two Parkes RFS volunteers were part of a special taskforce based in Western Sydney and set up in case the fires threatened the city's fringe.

RFS Mid Lachlan Valley Superintendent Ken Neville said two tankers from his team had been based at Lithgow since last Thursday with volunteers travelling to the community on a rotational roster.

Supt Neville said that during the recent bushfire crisis more than 20 RFS staff had been seconded to work on incident management teams in the Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands, Hunter and Newcastle regions.

He said the volunteers had been engaged in protecting people and property from fire and in back-burning operations around Lithgow.

Pat Mooney, who volunteers with the Barratta RFS unit north-west of Condobolin, had just returned to the Forbes headquarters on Monday after three days at a makeshift operation centre at Lithgow Showground.

He said he had been deployed on a day shift, on tasks like property protection, tree felling and backburning.

"By the time we were getting back to base camp we were pretty worn out," he said.

A volunteer with the RFS for 11 years, Mr Mooney said he would have been happy to stay at the fire control centre, but regulations meant he had to be replaced with fresh crew after three days. 

Meanwhile,  six  members of the Parkes Fire Brigade also joined a western task force this week to join the battle.

Three crew from Forbes Fire and Rescue left for western Sydney on Tuesday with a new bushfire fighting tanker.

Forbes Fire and Rescue captain Brian Clarke said the three crew – Andrew Rousell, Mark Willis and Nick Ryan – would take the four-wheel drive vehicle on its first operation since it arrived several weeks ago.

Supt Neville said the fire danger season had arrived earlier than normal this year.

"It's coming in a lot quicker than normal so people need to be vigilant and make sure they are not using anything they don't need to in the open like welders and grinders.

"If they are using machinery on their property they should have all the firefighting equipment handy," he said.