Family reunion on the Pomonal fireground

Member News image Georgia Cook (left) with brother Josh Nagorcka and mum Tanya Nagorcka


As fires moved through the Grampians earlier this month, crews were called from across Victoria to assist communities and defend property in the line of fire.


In the early afternoon of 13 February, Ballarat Fire Brigade 2nd Lieutenant Georgia Cook was with her crew at Wendouree Fire Station when the strike team leader got the call to head to Pomonal.  

While they were on their way, Georgia heard from her mum Tanya Nargorka that she was also on a strike team heading to Pomonal. Tanya is the 4th lieutenant at Wannon-Bochara brigade.  

Coincidentally, Georgia and Tanya weren't the only members of the family heading to Pomonal that day. Georgia's brother Josh Nagorka was also responding with Cavendish Forest Fire Management Victoria. The trio knew they had a task ahead of them, but at that point they weren't to know what challenges the day would bring.  

"We sort of lost service with the fires and messages were struggling to get through." Georgia said 

Shortly after the Eureka strike team arrived Georgia and her crew were sent to defend a property, but while they were on site the winds changed and the team ended up in a burnover.  

Mum Tanya first learned something was wrong when a mayday call came through over the radio.  

"We heard the Ballarat tanker calling out in trouble and I knew that Georgia was on that tanker. That was a bit of an anxious time particularly when I heard that they were running low on water and they had several mayday calls coming out over the airwaves," Tanya said.  

"Most of our family are actually involved in the fire services. I've got four children, three of them are active fire brigade members. The kids have grown up. They stay fairly calm. They know emergencies happen. They know what to do. They know their training.

"But from a mother's point of view when you start hearing 'we're running low on water can somebody please come and help us?' you start thinking is this another Linton situation? Please somebody head up there." 

The Eureka strike team did remain calm in the face of danger and thankfully their training kicked in when they most needed it. All five members of the crew walked away from the burnover with only minor injuries.  

"I didn't actually realise that somebody had gone to assist until right near the end when they radioed back and said 'we’re OK, the fire's gone over now. We're all OK.' That was so good to hear."  

After the burnover all crews returned to the oval where they waited for the fire front to move through the town. That's when Georgia and Tanya were reunited

"Mum found me and I ran into Josh going into the centre as well. It was really cool to see them both," Georgia said. 

Tanya was very relieved to see both her kids safe and in one piece after a big afternoon.  

"I saw Georgia and I went over and gave her a big hug. It was lovely to see the kids," Tanya said.  

The trio didn't have long together before firefighting efforts resumed and crews headed back to the fireground.  

Georgia was determined not to let the stress of the burnover get in the way of the task at hand and jumped back on the truck.  

"When all the other crews said they wanted to go back out, we decided that we were OK. We didn't need to be stepped down or go home. We said we're OK, we'll go back out." 

A huge effort was made that day by all crews that fought to save lives and property in the Grampians region.  


Submitted by CFA Media