At 2000 on Friday 11th January we got an improbable sounding page about a burning tree at Knoll NP, but it was exactly that. There was an initial report to the police about the burning tree which was a big one just by the picnic area at the entrance to the Knoll NP. Paul and Greg were first on scene and found the 30 metre high tree burning in classic ‘stag’ style with a blast of sparks and embers coming from the top of the ‘chimney’ and threatening to set the surrounding bush alight.
The tree was an odd combination; it had a strong, sound trunk with branches growing to the top on the side nearest the road but was dead and hollow on the far side. There was the usual opening at the base on the dead side. A fire had been deliberately started in that opening and then left to burn.The internal fire and the shower of sparks was very persistent and continued despite water injected upwards from the bottom and foam directed at the top. By this point more members had arrived with all four vehicles present. Members there were: John(TM2), Paul (TM3), Toni, Donna, Maria, Paris,Malcolm, Greg, Kent, Chris, Geoff R and Robbo. Wil was there briefly as a civilian. The Urban truck also came in the hope that its more powerful hoses could stop the fire – but to no avail.
The only answer was to cut the tree down but that was a job beyond any of the firefighters present so we sent for a professional. This was Kent’s boss and he and his big saw made a top job of felling the burning tree in exactly the right line. The shower of sparks while this was going on would put most fireworks displays to shame, When the tree was down Greg cut ‘trapdoors’ along its length so that we could get access to make sure the internal fire was truly out. This we did. We got back to the Station about 23.30 with another job well done.”
Footnote: The trucks had to be refilled with water several times – mostly for our use but sometimes to top up the Urbans. On one occasion the refill tap was left in the full open position. As a result the was very little pressure at the hose and, more importantly, a big flow of foam into the tank. Closing the refill tap immediately restored hose pressure but the foam in the tank remained – so that truck could no longer refill the Urban pumper.