New Year’s fire battle

By Daniel Hughes

While most locals in the Southern Riverina sat down with their family or friends as the clock ticked over to the new year of 2020, many of the Berrigan Shire and Murrumbidgee firefighters were in the thick of the NSW fires as part of task force units.

Instead of celebrating with their loved ones, local volunteers were facing a bushfire torn landscape with hose in hand.

A large crew of rotating local Rural Fire Service members were tasked with responding to the Green Valley fires, including back burning in order to save the town of Jingellic.

NSW Federation Zone Group Captain Greyd’n Davis, Phil Selman, Tamara Graham, Lauren McAndrew, Daniel Sharp, Arthur Dempster, Riley Dempster, Ashley Batten, Mark Maccullagh (Tocumwal RFS Capt), and Jim Macartney were all in attendance to fight the fires.

“We’ve been in Jingellic since Monday (December 30), at the Green Valley fire, it’s horrendous, just horrendous,” Capt Davis said.

“We’ve had a fantastic rotation out of the Berrigan shire, it’s been a terrific effort from everyone.

“Myself, Arthur, Ms McAndrew and Mr Batten were directly involved in successfully defending Jingellic.”

Jerilderie Fire & Rescue’s Ben Nash and Ignatius Crittenden were up to their neck with furious flames on the eastern coastline of Australia.

Mr Nash and Mr Crittenden were joined in their tanker by a Deniliquin FR Hazmat crew.

Although the majority of our local firefighters may not have been on deployment for New Year’s Day, it did not mean they were safe and sound in the comfort of their homes.

Tocumwal FR Captain Ian Desailly said the New Year’s period was a busy one for all Fire and Rescue crews as they remained on high alert with local celebrations happening all over the region.

“It was a very busy time for us, from 6pm New Year’s Eve through to 5pm New Year’s Day when things started wrapping up,” Capt Desailly said.

“There was a lot of movement between the stations in the last week with fires throughout the region, meaning we’d have to cover for other towns while Finley and Jerilderie covered us and each other.

“Touch wood this weekend isn’t much of the same thing and everyone remains safe.”