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ST 0981 in Gelantipy.
ST 0981 was added to the long list of teams working on the east Gippsland fires in February of this year, the District 9 team of heavy and medium tankers were tasked to work north of Buchan supporting DEPI crews in a burn to the West of the Snowy River
A small area of fire had crossed the Snowy River and was burning in steep country towards a ridge West of the Snowy River, our Strike Team led by Rob Auchterlonie was tasked to support the DEPI crews burning along Tulloch Ard Rd working to put a control line in around the fire.
We left Morwell early on the Thursday and travelled east via Bairnsdale and on to Buchan for a briefing from the Now Nowa divcom, we then wound our way North along a ridge west of the Snowy River. We arrived in time for the lunch break and met up with the DEPI crews who were glad to see the tankers arrive to support the burn, they were working a long edge of Tulloch Ard Road with little water.
After lunch we were tasked and set to work primarily following the lighting teams along the road and watching for spotovers, keeping it out of the top of the trees, a couple of trucks were doing the patrol work back to the start of the burn. It was slow going for the first few hours, the breeze was accross the track and the burn only ran a few metres before going back downhill, stodgy, smokey and not much fun. In some places the smoke cleared and later in the afternoon the breeze shifted to behind us and the burn gathered strength,around 7pm we finished off and left the line for our accomodation at Gelantipy.
On the way out we picked up the Toora Big fill crew which had found a pleasant little spot on a dam in a big clearing about 9km along the road, while waiting for the tankers to fill they had set up the kettle and moved the local black snake on. We were staying in a camp at Gelantipy, it used to be a timber mill and was now a tourist/school camp, it wasn't a flash motel but the bunks were comfy and the food great. We joined the Gelantipy Division crews for meals and mixed with the D11 strike team from Lakes who were working North of us near Campbells Knob area with another DEPI crew along with abunch of dozer and excavator drivers.
We arrived on the ground on Friday morning and were surprised by how much work had been done overnight, the fireground was around 750 metres high and the inversion had come down so overnight was mild and dry, great conditions for the burn. We continued on south along the road working in clean air so the burn was much more effectiveand we were moving at a good pace until we came to the interesction of Running Bare Ck track and turned left down to the Snowy, no room for tankers here. We could travel down around 500metre then the slipons had to do the work, we supplied them with water and continued our patrol back to the start of the burn for the rest of the day.
Friday night we had light rain over the fire ground, not enough to put the fire out,just enough so we couldn't work so the morning debrief was held up while they had a look at conditions and worked out if we could do any work. We were stood down for the morning so the crews tidied up the vehicles and topped up the supplies of foam and P2 masks then waited. Warm scones for morning tea helped the day pass and following lunch the word came down we were released and could head off home. Some of the tankers were being replaced with slipons so the crews filled up and headed off nearly a day early, the remainder waited with the heavy tankers for the relief crews who were arriving later on Saturday. We headed for home around 7.30 on Sunday and were in Bairnsdale where we found out our relief were following us home as the tracks were still too wet for the tankers to work on. We at least had a couple of days work before the showers slowed things down, our reliefs had driven to Gelantipy for dinner, spent the night then had breakfast before heading home..... a short stint for 0981 in gelantipy.