Firey back from Queens­land fires

Augusta Margaret River Times - - News - War­ren Hately

Rosa Brook fire­fighter Keith Scott re­turned this week from his role as part of a WA task­force help­ing fight bush­fires in Queens­land.

The 25-year veteran firey was part of a 21-mem­ber con­tin­gent from the Lower South West zone headed to Queens­land on De­cem­ber 1.

The vol­un­teers were split into groups, with each hav­ing at least one lo­cal agency mem­ber to en­sure lo­cal knowl­edge, as ap­pre­ci­ated when fight­ing fires in the Capes re­gion.

Mr Scott said the work mostly in­volved pro­tect­ing vi­tal as­sets and help­ing co-or­di­nate re­lief ef­forts around the Cred­i­ton State For­est area. “Fuel loads were real- ly dry and dense and the fire was rag­ing in hard-to-ac­cess ar­eas,” he said.

“The fire­fight­ing con­di­tions were just as hot as we en­dured in the Mar­garet River fires (of 2011).

“The trees that were burn­ing were big, thick tim­ber in age-old rain­for­est ar­eas and the fire was burn­ing in the top tree storeys, which were of­ten 50-60m high.”

About 100,000ha of rain­for­est and sugar cane fields were de­stroyed and the area evac­u­ated.

“It’s ter­ri­bly sad to see the rain­for­est ab­so­lutely dec­i­mated and the dam­age to as­sets such as roads is go­ing to be worse as the rain comes in and water run off the fire grounds,” Mr Scott said.

“The ex­pe­ri­ence served as a stark re­minder about the dev­as­ta­tion of fire and the need to be pre­pared.

“We say it all the time and I wish peo­ple could ex­pe­ri­ence ev­ery­thing we see as fire­fight­ers to un­der­stand the dif­fer­ence of hav­ing a well-pre­pared prop­erty, ver­sus an un­der-pre­pared prop­erty.

“It’s the dif­fer­ence of hav­ing a struc­ture still stand­ing and watch­ing it go up in smoke be­fore your very eyes.”

Other du­ties apart from mon­i­tor­ing spot fires and re­as­sur­ing wor­ried res­i­dents in­cluded keep­ing an eye out for loot­ers. Rosa Brook Vol­un­teer Bush­fire Bri­gade cap­tain Richard Moroney saluted his val­ued team mem­ber’s ded­i­ca­tion.

“Keith is the Os­ming­ton fire con­trol of­fi­cer and has over 25 years ex­pe­ri­ence in the bush­fire bri­gade,” Mr Moroney told the Times.

“Au­gusta-Mar­garet River Shire vol­un­teer bush­fire bri­gades have a long­stand­ing and proud his­tory of do­ing our bit dur­ing times of need.

“Keith Scott has con­tin­ued this tra­di­tion in vol­un­teer­ing to help our fel­low fire­fight­ers in Queens­land dur­ing a time of cri­sis.”

Mr Scott said his ex­pe­ri­ence un­der­scored the im­por­tance of landown­ers pre­par­ing their prop­er­ties ahead of the com­ing peak bush­fire sea­son.

Fire­fight­ing veteran Keith Scott, sec­ond from right, with his Rosa Brook Vol­un­teer Bush­fire Bri­gade crew­mates.

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