by John Robertson
At 12:08 on 25th October we were paged to support TM Auxiliaries at a fire on Shelf Road MT. John H, Rory and Robbo went in 52 and met Darryl on site at Shelf Road. Neville and Barry followed in 51. Captain George and Peter Mason were on site with two trucks and crews from the Auxiliaries. It was very obvious how the fire had started – from a very small burn of garden waste which was left unattended.
It lit some dead leaves adjacent which set a fire going up the steep slope from Shelf to Bartle Road (this is where Great Western Road turns off towards the Goat Track). The fire was burning upwards and westwards and thus away from the Shelf Road houses but towards those on Bartle Road above. The site is very steep and strewn with many rocks. The principal vegetation is lantana with a few trees and much weedy scrub. Were it not for the threat to property and to an avocado plantation there would be a good argument for burning the whole slope.
Darryl and Rory attacked from below upwards using water pumped by the Auxiliaries direct from a house tank to heavy hoses. 52 and 51 attacked from the top down with Barry doing most of the hard yakka on the branch. From the top special care had to be taken to avoid setting off an avalanche of rolling rocks down onto the heads of those working below. Our combined efforts were very successful and by 14:30 the fire was well blacked out and all gear (including a hose which burst) was made up. Peter Mason had set up an excellent portable pump at Bartle Road and 51 and 52 rapidly refilled with water there. Then back to the Station and standdown at 15:15.