’You’re an inspiration’: Fireys overwhelmed by support
A VOLUNTEER firefighter from Cannon Valley who returned from a deployment in Nowra described the landscape as like “armageddon”.
First officer Tim Murphy from Cannon Valley Rural Fire Service was joined by second officer Darren Hinton and Aaron Regan from Conway to assist in “mop up” of the area.
The three volunteers were part of an 18-member Central Queensland strike team flying into New South Wales and joined other firefighters from Mackay, Gladstone, Rockhampton and Barcaldine.
Mr Murphy worked in a strike team rostered from 8pm-8am and was called out to extinguish fires in the area that were still burning after the front had moved through.
“The fires had gone through but there was still a lot of trees burning, and our job was to extinguish the trees,” he said.
“We had to look after the highway so when embers were burning from a tree we’d go there with our trucks and extinguish the fire and then head out to the next deployment.
The volunteer team relieved other crews who had been working for several weeks straight.
Mr Murphy described the devastation left after the fire tore through the south coast region as “eerie”.
“Some places hadn’t been touched, but some places are just scorched earth,” he said.
“There was just nothing left, just blackened trees and not a blade of grass.
“Nothing was alive, there wasn’t even a noise.
“When we left, Nowra was pretty much safe but there’s a lot of rebuilding to do.
“Infrastructure was damaged, bridges were burned, telephones lines were down and lots of houses were destroyed.”
Despite the terrible losses so many on the south coast had suffered, Mr Murphy said he and his crew were met with the most welcoming hospitality.
“Everyone was amazingly nice, we couldn’t pay for anything,” he said.
“We’d open our wallet up to try and pay but they wouldn’t accept anything.
“When we got on the Brisbane airport we had 100 people just clapping, and people kept coming up and shaking out hands.”
“The Nowra fire station had a shed and it was just boxes and pallets of food, water, toothbrushes, everything you could imagine.”
Donations from the public often had messages of support for the volunteers which Mr Murphy said were “very emotional”.
The crew arrived back from Nowra late last night and will wait for further instruction on whether they will be deployed again.
Mr Murphy hoped that he would be called again and was thankful for all the support he and his colleagues had received over the past week.
“It was a great privilege to be down there,” he said.
“Everyone would go tomorrow if they could.”