Fires update: Thank you :)
Tue, Feb 10 2009 15:48
When I got home last night I had a heap of emails and messenger notes from family, friends and colleagues expressing concerned over the fires. Thank you ! I did try to reply to everyone, but I was tired and was busy washing down the dust.
Where we are, we were very lucky in that the closest fire was in Weerite, between Colac and Warrnambool, SW Victoria, on the map below. It’s denoted with a red star which means contained; red dots are the fires that are controlled, and flames are those that are going.
On the Saturday we were gathered at the station in readiness for any fires. We sharpened the chainsaw; I had only given it a quick sharpen after I blunted it at a shed fire a few weeks earlier, and it needed a good clean. We ate lunch and waited. The Weerite fire started (from a downed power line) and our slip on unit with a crew of two was dispatched. We joked, as you do, and waited and watched. We’d go outside and look over to the west and watch the smoke as the Weerite fire grew. Our truck was kept in the station in preparedness should the fire or another start in the Otways. The real concern was if the Weerite fire spotted ahead with the strong winds, which were driving from the NW. That would have set the Otways alight which have huge fuel loads, then with the forecast SW change it would have ripped right along the coast and ranges. Fortunately that didn’t happen. The SW change came early.
The Weerite fire jumped the highway, and by mid afternoon the fire was about 1000 hectares. The crews did a great job to pull the fire up. So good in fact a couple of hours after the change came through, our tanker was stepped up to Colac then dispatched to the fires in the east of the state (Warragul). They worked right through the night and were bussed back to home the next day, leaving our tanker behind for other crews to operate. Our tanker returned last night.
I got the joy of doing some mopup/blackening out at Weerite yesterday. I say “joy” both sarcastically and truly. It’s volcanic plains out there, so lots of rocks. The soil is semi peat and burns, so putting out the perimeter is a slow dusty dirty job. But it was great to get out and actually do something. The spirits of those working was high, every-one wanted to put in, and do the best they could. Commitment to the job was unwavering. I heard one conversation with one of the staging folks as a member from my brigade asked if he had had any rest yet, to which he replied he had gone home the night before but kept waking every 15 minutes or so as he would think of things to do, so he’d get up and write them down. And given the limited resources they did a great job. We also must have done a great job, because just an hour or so ago a message came across my pager saying they no longer require crews for the Weerite fire. Hopefully that means soon it will be upgraded to one of those red dots on the map instead of a star. I guess soon after that talk of relief crews for the guys who must be doing it so hard in the East of the state.
Although these are terrible times, the spirit and commitment, the wanting to help each other … it’s through adversity we get to see the best of human nature. Like yesterday while we were having lunch we were told someone was giving stress massages in the fire shed if anyone needed. That’s pretty unusual for a fire line, and a few guys rushed for the door. It’s a pity it wasn’t a the end of the day whilst I was having a beer, but I think that nice that people want to help however they can. I read some lovely news today how our blood bank (which is always all un paid donors here) was over whelmed with the number of donations as people responded to the call for donations to help the victims of the fires.
A lot of business and the community have also made a lot of donations to he red cross appeal: