by John Robertson
After Binnaburra NP and Springbrook NP on Tuesday and Wednesday, Saturday morning brought a page at 0626 about a fire report at the Knoll NP. John (TM1) and Rory were first on the scene in 41. There was indeed a fire and quite a substantial one; surely a case of arson. Barry and Robbo followed shortly in 52 and Neville came solo with 51. The fire was burning on the very steep North and East faces immediately beyond and below the picnic area. It is difficult country because it often breaks away under your feet so you go sliding down the slope – perhaps into a lantana bush. We had quite a bit of mixing and matching between vehicles and crew members as the morning wore on.
Rory and Barry (his first time at a wildfire) bore the brunt of the work on the hoses. John called on the Urbans to support us with water and this they did quite admirably giving multiple loads to our trucks. By about 1000 the fire was under good control but with a few hot trees and stumps remaining. Around this time Gail arrived with grub – really excellent egg and bacon rolls along with an assortment of soft drinks. Very welcome! At John’s request we provided grub for all the Urbans at the scene as well as for our own people.
Wil Buch (a Brigade member, Fire Warden and NPWS Senior Ranger) arrived to represent the NP interest. His admirable approach was to make a virtue of a necessity and to treat the fire as if it were a controlled burn of the area. Thus he used a drip torch to burn out the triangular section just below the east side of the picnic area. Rory provided the rake hoe and 41 controlled the backburn. This was completed successfully by which time NPWS trucks had arrived. They took over monitoring of the scene.
We had a short de-brief and then back to the Station. 51 and 52 needed to take on water so, of course, we went to Kidd Street. For the first time ever the water there failed us. We cannot complain because the Brigade has drawn innumerable tank loads from that outlet. Instead we went to the Kiwi fruit farm opposite the hang-glider site and rapidly filled there. On return to the Station all vehicles were comprehensively re-commissioned with fuels, spare batteries and drinking water. Stand-down was at 1245.
Comms were again difficult and mobile phones almost unusable. Tony did an indispensable job relaying many messages. Experience is coming thick and fast – three fires this week.