Local strike team
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.