Pindimar/Tea Gardens Rural Fire Service called out to Wards River fire during drill

Pindimar/Tea Gardens Rural Fire Service volunteers with the TG-7 truck. (L-R) Deputy Captain Maurie Leembruggen, Captain David Bright and Brad Moon.

REALITY hit for one new Pindimar/Tea Gardens Rural Fire Service (RFS) recruit at routine training on Tuesday, 12 December.

During a combined RFS and Fire and Rescue NSW fire drill at Palm Lake Resort, suddenly the RFS ‘Tea Gardens 7’ truck was repurposed by Fire Control to assist at a real bushfire at Wards River, north of Stroud.

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The fire itself was not the most frightening part of the adventure, rather, rocketing down the ever-bumpy Bucketts Way at top speed, sirens wailing, dodging potholes and motorists while threading unfinished bridges until the smoke clouds could finally be seen engulfing the mountain.

“Fires at Mill Creek Rd and Johnsons River had joined together into one big one, which we were facing at Wards River,” RFS Captain David Bright told NOTA.

“There is no way to control it, so we must try to contain it, chasing grass fires as they come down the hill.”

Dry grass fires burn fast and unpredictably, leaping out in random, wind-blown ‘fingers’, capriciously changing direction with the mercurial winds.

Unconfirmed reports say at least one fire was sparked by ‘dry-lighting’, deep in the rugged scrub-covered hills, yet the main concern was preventing it from lancing out of the scrub into open paddocks.

The Hindu Kush-like terrain was full of folds and gullies, the fire played hide and seek, poking out and flare up here, smouldering in the cow patties everywhere else.

The helicopter buzzed above as eye-in-the-sky, while valiant volunteer units from Booral and Avon joined the Tea Gardens firefighters, spending most of the day dragging the live-reel up rocky hillsides, nooks and crannies, or jumping on spot-fires in the grass.

After action, Captain Bright told NOTA, “I am very happy with how the crew performed, our new blood did well, and had some members coming back from break to perform well, too.

“The Pindimar/Tea Gardens Brigade were, as usual, complimented on a job well done.”

By Thomas O’KEEFE

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