Eye of the storm

Tari JeffersManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Clinton Bailey, Adam Jendrszczak and Michael Lawrence fought fires in New South Wales and Queensland.
Camera IconClinton Bailey, Adam Jendrszczak and Michael Lawrence fought fires in New South Wales and Queensland. Credit: Tari Jeffers

Fire crews from throughout the Lower South West have been on the ground battling blazes that have threatened lives and homes across New South Wales and Queensland.

A total of 15 volunteers from throughout the Lower South West, two Department of Fire and Emergency Services volunteers and four Parks and Wildlife firefighters have served as part of the biggest deployment in recent years, as involvement has doubled in the region from a maximum of three deployments to six.

Since early November, each of the deployments were rostered for eight to nine days, including travel time.

Ahead of their deployment to Queensland on Thursday, Manjimup Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service volunteers Clinton Bailey, Adam Jendrszczak and Michael Lawrence spoke with the Manjimup-Bridgetown Times. “I look at it as you’re not being heroic, it’s just we have a group of people over there that are tired and need a break and you go over and do something,” Mr Bailey said.

“Some of these people lost their own properties.

“That’s what I see what we’re doing — going over to help our neighbour out.”

More than 570 homes have been lost and six people have died in New South Wales this bushfire season and in Queensland, more than 158,000ha of land has been burnt and 16 homes confirmed lost.

Mr Bailey said for all the volunteers heading east, fighting fires in Queensland and New South Wales would be a learning experience due to different weather and terrain conditions. “If you go to New South Wales and are around the Blue Mountains, it’s a completely different country,” he said.

“You’re looking at stuff that’s nearly vertical and you have to fight a fire in there and you can’t get trucks in there.

“They use helicopters a lot to drop firefighters in to try and put out small fires.”

The firefighters had heard stories of temperatures dropping to minus 3C in New South Wales overnight.

In Queensland, it was a different story altogether because landscapes were muggy and almost tropical.

“Even today before we leave, it’s 30 degrees with 90 per cent humidity in Queensland,” Mr Jendrszczak said.

In their instructions for deployment to Queensland, the three volunteers were warned of dangerous creatures, such as crocodiles, when getting water from rivers, lakes and dams.

They are likely to return today or tomorrow.

The 15 volunteers firefighters came from organisations from Busselton through to Northcliffe.

SES volunteers have been transporting the firefighters as far as Perth for deployment.

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