RURAL Fire Brigade have been out on crew rotations since Monday 8 Jan, clocking up over a week of continuous fire fighting, back burning and clean up, which has seen the brigade go through more than a dozen crew rotations.
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A fire on Masonite Road at Tomago started off the more than week-long battle of working against extreme weather conditions.
The KBDI (Keetch-Byran Drought Index), devised to measure the likelihood of wildfire based on soil moisture and other condition related to drought, measured Williamtown and surrounds at 150 on Sunday 14 January.
Measurement scales go from zero, meaning no drought, through to 800, reflecting extreme drought.
The fire, thought to be started by a bolt of lightning, quickly lit up the hot, dry grass and the fire took off rapidly.
Local brigades, had the fire under control by late Wednesday.
Crews from Medowie assisted with keeping the smouldering area under control and from reigniting, only to have the intense weather create havoc again on Friday morning.
Medowie RFB member Gavin Smith told News Of The Area, “On Friday morning, Raymond Terrace brigade were out doing a patrol with National Parks at the Masonite road site, and Medowie got a call around midday to assist with a crew and chainsaw operator to help clear some of the smouldering logs near the fire edge.”
The weather was against them, and the fire reignited again, quickly spreading.
The small pockets of rain during the week were far too little, and brought with them dangerous lightning that made situations worse, and the intense heat and gail force winds only added to the chaotic conditions.
Andrew Collins, Captain of Medowie Rural Fire Brigade, told News Of The Area, “Over the course of the week, we have rotated through at least a dozen Medowie crews, with more to come.”
“Medowie RFB members have worked around the clock to assist in the overall containment of this fire, with crews from all over the Lower Hunter District, strike teams from other RFS districts, National Parks and Wildlife crews and Fire & Rescue assisting with property protection.”
“We’ve had two vehicles out with the crews, with the urban pumper in station on standby for any other incidents” he said.
Port Stephens residents were treated to some spectacular sights during this worrying time, with water being dumped on properties from the skies on by the Erickson sky crane and the aptly named ‘VLAT’ (Very Large Air Tanker) ‘Nancy Bird’.
Medowie Rural Fire Brigade like to remind everyone to make sure you have an up-to-date Bush Fire Survival Plan. If you do not have a plan, leaving early is your safest option.
By Rachael VAUGHAN