Lo­cal strike team

Southern Riverina news - - NEWS -

Five lo­cal fire­fight­ers make up a 17 man strike team as­sist­ing with the NSW bush­fire emer­gency across large parts of NSW.

The strike team was yes­ter­day mak­ing its way home after be­ing in Mil­ton in the Illawarra re­gion when it was re­de­ployed to the Bega Valley.

Speak­ing to the SOUTH­ERN RIVE­RINA NEWS from a rest stop in Braid­wood yes­ter­day, Ber­ri­gan Ru­ral Fire Ser­vice Cap­tain Vic Wat­son said the team is now ex­pected to re­turn home later this week.

Also part of the strike team are Ri­ley Nolan from Ber­ri­gan, Greg Hawke from Ba­rooga, Kevin Young from Tocumwal and Neale Rees from Fin­ley.

‘‘We were orig­i­nally called to help at Mount Kingi­man at Mil­ton (near Ul­ladulla), help­ing to strengthen con­tain­ment lines and do­ing some back burn­ing,’’ Capt Wat­son said.

‘‘There are five trucks in our strike force — from Ba­rooga, Split­ters Creek, Walla Walla, Jin­dera and a South­ern Bor­der Re­gion group ve­hi­cle.

‘‘We were able to leave Syd­ney, but we’ve since been re­tasked to Bega un­til Thurs­day.

‘‘Again we’ll help strengthen con­tain­ment lines and with back­burn­ing, and to have a go at any fires we come across.’’

The lo­cal team re­ceived the call Satur- day af­ter­noon, and was in Mil­ton by Sun­day af­ter­noon.

The Mount Kingi­man fire was of­fi­cially de­clared un­der con­trol on Mon­day morn­ing, after burn­ing through 2,240 hectares.

Capt Wat­son said luck­ily no homes were de­stroyed in the blaze, but it did claim other in­fras­truc­ture like sheds.

The blaze at Mount Kingi­man also claimed the life of a wa­ter-bombing he­li­copter pilot — Syd­ney-based pilot Al­lan Tull — whose he­li­copter crashed when his wa­ter bucket be­came tan­gled in trees be­fore the lo­cal team ar­rived.

‘‘They were so lucky not to lose any homes, but the winds were hor­ren­dous,’’ Capt Wat­son said.

‘‘Some of us were work­ing in the area where the he­li­copter pilot was killed, and when we were at Mil­ton (on Mon­day) the trans­port safety board was there do­ing some more in­ves­ti­ga­tions.’’

In the Bega Valley the lo­cal team will help fight the blaze which started at Yan­kees Gap Rd in Bem­boka.

By Mon­day night, it had burned more than 7500ha and claimed at least three houses.

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