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Home from WA for the firefight
Craig Coad works as a miner in Kalgoorlie some 600 kilometres away from Perth. But when friends and family back home in Tawonga sent him photos of the “dirty great columns of smoke” from the Harrietville fire close to home, he hot-footed it back to the valley and the back of the fire truck.
“It wasn’t looking real good,” he says, “and there was an Advice message out for Tawonga and Mt Beauty. I was coming back anyway for a late Christmas but I moved it forward.
“The winds have actually been pretty favourable for our end of the valley but our crew did a night shift at Harrietville so the local brigade could go home. We were patrolling breaks and putting out spot-overs.
“I’ll keep going out on fire calls and do a bit of fishing with the boys – that’s the plan.”
This isn’t the first time that Craig has returned home to fight nearby fires. When the Beechworth fire began on the afternoon of Black Saturday, Craig got on the road from Kalgoorlie to Perth just as the Tawonga crew was paged.
“As soon as I got home I got on a private vehicle and chased spot fires,” he says. “I was so glad I was there and I stayed for a couple of weeks working on and off. The fire came within seven kilometres of home. It’s the biggest one I’ve ever seen or ever want to see.”
Craig has been an active member since he was 16 and in the first ever youth crew at Mt Beauty Secondary College.
“It’s a really good brigade and has plenty of ex-youth crew members,” he continues. “They’re pro-active, community-minded and have two brigade-owned appliances.”