As part of the Brigade’s sustained contribution to controlling the fire on and around the Lamington National Park Road, Ron and Robbo left the Station at 0750 on Thursday 27th September in TM41. We met up with Clinton Neumann of QFRS (formerly our BTSO) in Canungra and were tasked to survey and report up the whole length of the road.
Several fires were obvious on the slope as we headed uphill but none of those immediately threatened properties or people. The only threats along the road (blackened on both sides) were a few burnt or burning trees. These were marked with tape for the attention of NPWS. We reported back to I/C and there were tasked, in company with a VCE team, to visit various individual properties off the main road and extinguish any fires we found. In the event we did not find fire at any of those locations but we did find a birthday party and got to share in cake and photos.
As we moved upwards, smoke was evident in the middle distance at the top of a hill. It seemed quite separate from the main fire and so it was. Hang-gliders could be seen circling in the resultant thermal. The location was Laheys Tabletop and it is adjacent to Tabletop Road as shown on the map. The shortest path to there from our position was along a succession of steep narrow 4-WD tracks.
The fire was burning next the road and gave every sign of having been deliberately lit. We put it out along the road and then inspected the west-moving fire front which had advanced over the hill top and was on its way down the other side. There it was quite inaccessible. Wil, who was present with his NPWS hat on, was consulted by the I/C and advised that the down-going fire would self-extinguish when it reached the rain forest. Later in the day it did exactly that. We spoke to some of the many hang-glider pilots present but, although they had visibly made use of the thermal lift, none professed any knowledge of when or how the fire had started.
Back to the I/C and then on to a new assignment to the property at 603 Cainbable Creek Road. This is also shown on the map. Our journey there was highly scenic but lengthy and almost all along narrow, rutted and difficult tracks. When we arrived (at about 1400) we joined with Wasp Creek 51 to backburn as shown approximately on the map. But first we had a sandwich lunch.
We back-burned in leapfrog and this went very well. The burning was done onto the grass without an initial barrier but this was created when the fire was well alight by thoroughly extinguishing the outer edge. The western flank of the backburn was along the fringe of the narrow Cainbable Creek. This caused 5+ metre high flames but the flame height was moderated with light hosing. TM41’s tank ended up empty.
The fire made the ABC TV News that evening
It was well after dark when we finished this job and we then returned to the I/C (Clinton N and Paul Womersley) for a final debrief. That was emphatic thanks and best wishes for a safe return.
We headed back to the Station replenishing our water and diesel tanks on the way and were ready to leave for home by 20.00. The meter showed that we had driven 180 km and at least 100 of that were in difficult 4-WD conditions. Ron is a former 4-WD instructor for the SES and he has lost none of his skill. Thank you Ron!
Another good exercise with our Brigade helping out our neighbours