Mine collapse survivor to join NSW fire fight
BEACONSFIELD mine collapse survivor Todd Russell was among 41 brave Tasmanian firefighters who flew to New South Wales this morning to assist with the fight against "devastating" bushfires in the region.
Mr Russell and fellow miner Brant Webb made global headlines when they miraculously survived two weeks trapped almost a kilometre underground when the mine collapsed in 2006, killing one.
Mr Russell is now the chief of Beaconsfield Fire Brigade and has had plenty of experience on the ground diverting emergencies.
He and the other Tasmanian volunteers will spend five of their seven days away defending threatened communities, protecting assets and relieving local firefighters so they can rest.
Tasmanian Fire Service acting regional chief Ian Bounds said it was a "great outcome" to see the Tasmanian volunteers "wanting to go and help their fellow firefighters".
One of the areas the Tasmanian crews will be deployed is Nowra on NSW's South Coast.
"They're going into quite volatile areas and safety will be paramount," Mr Bounds said.
"The conditions over there are quite devastating, it's going to be confronting, there will be a number of support mechanisms in place to help our firefighters through this."
Of the 41 volunteers, 29 flew out of Launceston and 12 flew out of Devonport.
Mr Bounds said relieving NSW crews so they could get some rest was "vital" to ongoing efforts to control the bushfires.
He said the Tasmanian volunteers were "very capable" of the task.
"There's a base level of requirements to be deployed for these sorts of fires and there's a lot of experience in among this group so they're very capable."
Mr Bounds said there were enough resources in Tasmania to deal with the bushfires still burning in the state's North and South.
"We've been monitoring the situation and we're comfortable at this point," he said.
"We're constantly looking at our risk here and currently our fires are well resourced and we believe we can support this deployment."
Mr Bounds said TFS would continue looking at possibilities to send more crews to the mainland to assist.
"Depending on the risk we have here and the fires we have here, we'll make that judgment on a weekly basis."