Sent to help out
Five of the region’s Rural Fire Service volunteers returned from Queensland last night, after volunteering to provide relief for Queensland crews battling long-running bushfires.
The group left Deniliquin at 6am Monday to fly from Wagga to Gladstone (via Canberra), then to Baffle Creek where they were stationed.
Katie Nightingale, Kris Quarrell and Andrew Wood from the Deniliquin Brigade, Gary Russell from Moulamein and Adam Scott from Bunnaloo joined about 150 other volunteers.
Speaking to the PASTORAL TIMES on a rest day on Wednesday, Mr Wood explained they were staying in a military base style camp in tents and it had been ‘‘a real eye opener’’.
‘‘Just watching houses burning down with the land is extraordinary,’’ he said.
‘‘The terrain is a lot different to what we are used to, and it’s hot with high humidity all the time.
‘‘Today (Wednesday) it’s 42 degrees so that just gives you an idea of what we’re working in.
‘‘High winds also make it very difficult. The past two days we’ve just been combating fires but today we’re working on moving people back into their homes and assisting them with whatever they need.’’
RFS Mid-Murray district assistant Terry Campbell said pressure had eased off fire crews working against Queensland bushfires after they received rainfall on Tuesday.
He thanked the firefighters who responded to the calls for help from Queensland, saying the zone is ‘‘happy to offer opportunities such as this to the zone to assist in any way we can’’.
‘‘Working up there is a great learning curve for them. Not only are they working in a relatively different environment, they have to learn the layout of their issued Queensland Fire Rescue truck and how the machinery works, because it’s completely different to the trucks we have down here.’’
The volunteers had mainly been attacking fire hot spots, as well as assisting with asset protection and fire breaks.
Mid-Murray Rural Fire Service firefighters (from left) Adam Scott, Gary Russell, Katie Nightingale, Kris Quarrell and Andrew Wood before leaving for Queensland on Monday.