Creating the ‘line’

Heavy vehicle operators provided a true life ‘line’ for farmers during the blaze that ripped through the region last week.

The graded track that served as a containment line around much of the bushfire stopped homes from being burnt to the ground.

Council staff, operators from Yass Earth Movers and Appsolutely Earthmoving worked around the clock in often dangerous conditions to grade tracks, knock down trees, control traffic and drive all-important water carts.

Mayor Rowena Abbey said she did a quick lap around the fire ground last week to survey the damage and was awed by the work.

“They did a sterling job,” she said. “Some of the areas that they graded, the fire burned right up to that line.”

She said the skill needed to create fire trails in such mountainous country was “nothing short of amazing”.

Andrew Field from Yass Earth Movers said his team took several machines out on Tuesday night to help contain the fire.

“The boys made containment lines around houses, sheds, farms and actually around the edge of the fire,” Mr Field said.

He said they couldn’t believe the intensity of the fire and on one occasion found themselves facing a wall of fire.

“We had to strip off a safe area and the fire got to us,” he said.

“It was just chaos… For the first day there was too much going on and too little time.”

The team had received a lot of thanks from the property owners they had helped, and Mr Field said hopefully they wouldn’t have to go through that again for many years.

“A big thanks to my guys and the professional way they conducted themselves,” Mr Field said.

Council’s general manager David Rowe said around 35 council staff worked various shifts to provide 24-hour support to the Rural Fire Service (RFS) since 4pm last Tuesday.

The assistance included four graders constructing fire containment lines through some very rugged country, four water carts to assist the RFS unit refilling, and provision of a fuel supplies for RFS units.

“Staff have contributed almost 2000 man hours to the fire fighting effort, including management support through the Local Emergency Management Committee which has been meeting regularly since being convened at 9.30pm on the Tuesday evening,” Mr Rowe said.

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