Valley, Ranges brigades to the rescue

Local Valley Heroes Helping out. Picture: supplied by Ron Haines

By Gabriella Vukman

As fires raged throughout Ballarat and across the Grampians Central Highlands in recent weeks, brigades have been rushing from far and wide to assist, and the Yarra Valley and Ranges services have missed none of the action.

From Seville to Mooroolbark to Yarra Glen, the Valley lent a significant portion of its resources to the Ballarat effort.

Graham Brown from the Coldstream CFA was part of the squad that was sent to help in Bayindeen near Ballarat.

Mr Brown said, “it was actually frightening when we got in there because the smoke was black. It was Really dark and gruesome looking.”

“My squad was allocated to asset protection which is where you just sit beside houses and make sure that the fire doesn’t come over the top of them.”

“We sat there with Mooroolbark all night waiting to see if the fire would come towards the houses but luckily the wind changed direction and went around us. We were there from 5 o’clock in the evening to 7 o’clock in the morning,” Mr Brown said.

After waiting from 5pm until 7am, Mr Brown was sent to a new location.

“We went to a place where the fire had come out of the bush and into the paddocks so we were sent there to stop it coming any further and black it all out there,” Mr Brown said.

Lilydale, Mount Evelyn, Silvan, Kallista-The Patch, Belgrave, Badger Creek, Warrandyte and Scoresby were among the District 13 CFA strike teams sent to fight the fires in the Ballarat region.

“Our strike team consisted of Coldstream, Yarra Glen, Mooroolbark and Wonga Park,” Mr Brown said.

“The Yarra Valley has been heavily involved in terms of fire fighting, sending meals, trucks and crews up to help,” Mr Brown said.

Lilydale Fire Brigade lieutenant Ron Haines shared the Lilydale CFA’s contribution to the Ballarat effort and said, “on 22nd February Lilydale’s Tanker along with other CFA tankers from Silvan, Badger Creek and Scoresby were despatched to a major wildfire just north of Beaufort.”

“The main task of the CFA tankers was to quickly extinguish these running grass fires- to prevent them spreading into farming properties and nearby houses and towns,” Mr Haines said.

Describing flames ‘leaping into the air’, Mr Haines noted the skill needed in order to manage crews fighting fires on the back of the tanker as well as manoeuvre the truck through fire.

“Again, during the recent Labour Day long weekend many hundreds and hundreds of CFA volunteers from around the State including brigade’s from the Yarra Valley District gave up their time to be on stand-by for strike teams,” Mr Haines said.

Travelling across the state and in some circumstances, the country to help out, the Valley’s local heroes are helping out abroad.