News & Media

CFA from the Tasmanian fireground

  • Lake Repulse, photo NathanRatcliffe
  • Tasman Peninsula, photo Shane Miller
  • Tasman Peninsula, photo Shane Miller
  • Tasman Peninsula, photo Shane Miller
  • Tasman Peninsula, photo Shane Miller
  • Cambridge ICC
  • Crews greeted by Tas Fire Service Chief Officer Mike Brown
  • PM visits Cambridge Fire Operations Centre

By: Leith Hillard

Category: Incidents - Bushfire

  6.00 PM 7 January, 2013


Location: General

Views: 5158

CFA members deployed to Tasmania are now in the thick of it as fires continue to burn with particular concerns for the Upper Derwent Valley and Forcett on the Tasman Peninsula.

Bacchus Marsh Captain Nathan Ratcliffe is with Strike Team 1 working on the Lake Repulse fire in the Upper Derwent Valley. The crew was still on duty transporting water at 5.45pm on Monday 7th after getting on the road at 7.30am. Dinner was predicted to be about two hours away.

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“We’re in the Allendale Fire Brigade district,” says Nathan, “and we’re working side by side with the brigade. We’re in a combination of heavy, medium and light tankers in an area of large farms that backs onto national park. The fire has gone across many boundaries. The town has been evacuated and people haven’t come home yet.

“We were approved this morning to consolidate control lines and do a backburn with four properties at risk. It was quite successful with the fire burning right up to the control lines later in the day.

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“When we got here the fire was about 10,000 hectares and it’s more like 15,000 hectares-plus now. The conditions today have been hot and blustery with variable winds. It’s quite different to Victoria with the fire going one way and then turning around and going another.”

The CFA members arrived in Hobart at 3pm on Sunday and were taken to the Tasmanian Fire Service’s Cambridge training college for vehicle induction before moving on to Hamilton.

The strike team is made up of members of District 15’s Eureka and Bacchus Marsh groups with the senior station officer of Ballarat City also raring to go as deputy strike team leader. The strike team leader is Captain Shane Cramer from Greendale brigade.

Many members of the strike team hadn’t met before but, as far as Nathan was concerned, dinner and a beer last night gave them the chance to get to know each other.

“We’re all active members,” he says, “and a bit of a relaxed chat gives you the chance to find out that everyone here has the right attitude to get the job done. We’re all here to help our friends.

“We’ve been very well received. It’s unreal the way we’ve been treated. All 11 of us are staying in a hotel built in 1803.”

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Captain Shane Miller from Clematis brigade is with Strike Team 3 near Forcett on the Tasman Peninsula and they’re also feeling very appreciated. “Tasmania Fire Service members are coming up and thanking us and people are waving as we drive along,” he says.

His strike team is made up of five CFA members from the Dandenong Ranges and five DSE staff also from the ranges, Powelltown and Noojee.

“We’re in country that’s really like the foothills of the Dande Ranges,” he continues. “It’s grass and light timber and we’re looking after a couple of rural towns. The residents are running convoys for supplies and we’ve seen burnt out houses and a school.

“Tomorrow is a total fire ban and tonight they’re expecting winds up to about 40 kilometres an hour so we’re back on the fireline now for a few hours; dinner’s over. There are tonnes of food and a farmer just came down to the fire station and donated a lot of peaches so we’re being well looked after.

“We’ve done a bit of good today.”

Some members of the strike team met up with Prime Minister Julie Gillard today as she toured trouble spots and expressed her admiration and support for all fire crews.

The four-day deployment will end on Friday when the group travels home.

 

Last Updated: 07 January 2013