Fireys back from saving Qld homes

Tari JeffersManjimup-Bridgetown Times
DBCA officer Shaun Hodgson reflects on his time fighting fires in Queensland.
Camera IconDBCA officer Shaun Hodgson reflects on his time fighting fires in Queensland. Credit: Tari Jeffers

Firefighters from Manjimup had a hand in saving the lives of people in a small rural Queensland town.

In addition to Manjimup Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service members Clinton Bailey, Adam Jendrszczak and Michael Lawrence, four Department of Biosecurity, Conservation and Attractions employees also went to Queensland to fight the fires on November 13.

DBCA employees Glen Sutton, Shaun Hodgson, Warren Felstead and Dr Val Densmor returned to WA last Wednesday after also fighting fires in Toowoomba, Queensland.

“We saved the town of Crows Nest in Queensland, which has about 1400 people in it,” Dr Densmor said.

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Dr Densmor said one of the aspects of saving the town was partially treating it like a prescribed burn. “We did some back-burning and put in some containment lines that also saved some houses in the bush,” she said.

“People were well chuffed with us when we left.”

Dr Densmor said one of the biggest differences in fighting fires in Queensland was the command structure they had to get used to.

“There was a lot of adapting to how they do things,” she said.

She said their team was made up of members from various agencies, including the Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service, career firefighters and bushfire brigade volunteers.

“We blended people together in different teams so we always had someone who knew each of the different processes,” Dr Densmor said. “It really helped us bond, as we went from standing in separate groups when we left WA, to hugs when we left Queensland.

“I have to give admiration to the volunteers, they did really well and pulled long hours.” Mr Hodgson said throughout his time fighting fires about 20km from Toowoomba, he felt really well looked after.

“The people of Toowoomba were really grateful,” he said.

“It’s great how people can come together.”

During the time fighting the fire which had already burnt about 900ha, Mr Hodgson said sometimes they were right on the edge of the fire. “In the thickness of the trees, the fire was reaching as high as the trees did,” he said.

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