12 November 2019

Snowy Monaro firefighters head to the danger zone

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Monaro Rural Fire Service fire fighters headed north yesterday (Monday) ahead of today’s predicted catastrophic fire conditions. Photo: Elena Guarracino.

Snowy Monaro volunteer firefighters have headed north to help exhausted local firefighters ahead of today’s catastrophic fire conditions.

Monaro District Inspector Langdon Gould says a Monaro Strike Team, with 16 personnel, flew to Coffs Harbour yesterday (November 11) morning to assist with the Clarence Valley fires near Grafton.

“They were to leave this Thursday, but due to the forecast catastrophic fire conditions in that area, they were sent today (Monday),” Inspector Gould says.

Strike team 2041 about to leave the Cooma Fire Control Centre to help exhausted firefighters in the Greater Western Sydney District. Photo: Elena Guarracino.

The second Strike Team – 2041, left around midday yesterday, after a briefing at the Cooma Fire Control Centre. The team have since travelled to a staging post in Penrith ready to be deployed where needed.

Inspector Gould says Strike Team 2041 comprised of five Category 7 appliances (fire trucks), each with three crew members.

“Volunteer firefighters from Dalgety, Numbla Vale, Michelago, Numeralla, Dry Plains, Shannons Flat, Smith Road rural fire brigades have been deployed and will return on Friday.

Monaro District Inspector Langdon Gould and Strike team 2041 leader Captain Mark Roarty brief volunteer firefighters yesterday at the Cooma Fire Control Centre.

Monaro District Inspector Langdon Gould and Strike team 2041 leader Captain Mark Roarty brief volunteer firefighters yesterday at the Cooma Fire Control Centre. Photo: Elena Guarracino.

Today’s fire danger is expected to be worse than originally forecast after the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) extended its catastrophic warning to coastal towns south of Sydney as far as Ulladulla.

With more than half of the 60 fires in NSW burning out of control, the scale of the fires is unprecedented with more than a million hectares burnt out since the start of this year’s bushfire season.

Inspector Gould says the Monaro District had been rolling out Strike teams for the past, 10 weeks, since late August.
“Over 70 firefighters have been sent to date, with some going to help with the Queensland fires,” Inspector Gould said.

Numbla Vale and Dalgety brigade firefighters, Richard Valler, Colin Fabish and Tom Beck. Photo: Elena Guarracino.

Inspector Gould went on to say that the departing strike teams in no way affect or reduce the ability of remaining brigades to respond should a local incident occur.

Monaro would not be left short with 126 appliances (fire trucks) and around 700 active volunteer firefighters remaining.

Strike team 2041 leader Captain Mark Roarty from East Jindabyne bush fire brigade, told volunteers that while they are there to protect life and property, his priority was to bring all volunteers home safely on Friday, without injury.

Alex Cherry, Numeralla Brigade, Steve and Melissa Phillips, Wollondibby Brigade. Photo: Elena Guarracino.

The NSW Premier has declared a seven-day state of emergency, and NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons has predicted the most dangerous bushfire week ever seen in Australia.

Words by Elena Guarracino

For news, updates and advice on the fire emergency in NSW check the NSW RFS website.


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