FIREFIGHTING: Auxiliary firefighters Mitchell Pohlmann and Fran Punshon. Ms Punshon has told of how difficult it is to watch the fires burning around the country at the moment after battling a blaze near Coffs Harbour late last year.
FIREFIGHTING: Auxiliary firefighters Mitchell Pohlmann and Fran Punshon. Ms Punshon has told of how difficult it is to watch the fires burning around the country at the moment after battling a blaze near Coffs Harbour late last year.

‘Confronting’: Firey reflects on battling fires down south

A FIREFIGHTER who helped battle out of control bushfires in northern New South Wales has told of how difficult it is to see the current bushfire crisis across Australia.

Bowen resident and auxiliary firefighter, Fran Punshon, travelled to the Glen Innes region at the start of November to help fight bushfires that ravaged the region.

She travelled with Bowen Fire Station Officer, Chris Neden, and spent five days helping to battle ‘the worst fires’ she had ever seen.

The conditions were so bad, the fire front was described as a ‘wall of flame’ by Glen Innes Mayor Carol Sparks, with entire towns evacuated for safety.

“I’ve never experienced anything like it, our wildfires are nothing like that” Ms Punshon said.

“These were tree top fires, which are large and burn incredibly fierce and fast.

“Honestly, it was quite scary at times.”

With the bushfire crisis still ongoing, Ms Punshon said it was difficult to watch some of the footage from around the nation as she can place herself in their shoes.

“It’s confronting to see, there’s entire towns and regions being evacuated,” she said.

“It’s hard to be here and sit and watch it. We know how bad it is, and there’s not a lot we can do from up here except help in the donation efforts.”

On the second day she was directly responsible for assisting in the firefighting efforts of a number of structures in the region.

“We were able to prevent the flames reaching the structures, which was a great success,” Ms Punshon said.

Through the difficulty of watching the bushfires burn, Ms Punshon also said she was touched by the positivity to come out of her time down south,

She said the strength of the volunteers and local residents was ‘amazing’.

“I was blown away with how everyone is just bonding together and helping,” she said.

“We worked alongside a lot of different organisations and they were so welcoming to us and opened their arms.

“Those rural guys have been fighting for months and months and yet they were still making sure we felt okay and comfortable. That was really touching to see.”


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