Adam answers the call
Leaving his young family behind to head interstate to fight the devastating Blue Mountain bushfires was not easy, but Two Wells CFS captain, Adam Harris, says he’d do it again if the call went out.
Adam – the only Two Wells CFS member – and around 150 CFS fire fighters from around the state flew to New South Wales on Tuesday October, 22, to help relieve and support Rural Fire Service personnel who had been battling the blaze for nearly a week.
It was the third contingent of South Australian volunteers to head interstate to assist in the bushfires, with the RFS firies tired and exhausted from fighting one of Australia’s worst bushfire disasters, which has devastated mountain countryside and destroyed more than 200 homes.
Based in Penrith, about and hour-and-a-half from the fires, Adam says the experience was eye-opening, with the sheer size of the fire, and the logistics of fighting it a timely reminder of what can happen when large quantities of dry bush land and strong winds combine.
“We did get the big winds they were expecting (last Wednesday),” he said.
“But it didn’t impact as bad as they had initially predicted.”
While not fighting at the fire’s front, Adam and other volunteers assisted local fire fighters in back burning efforts and also attended a new fire, which broke out due to a lighting strike.
Dense bush land meant access was difficult, and Adam said the volunteers worked in strike teams of five trucks consisting of about 25 people.
“I wasn’t concerned at all,” Adam said.
“Once I saw what we were dealing with and the fact that I wouldn’t be casino at the fire front, I was okay.”
Waiting at the family home in Two Wells, it was a different story for his wife, Chantel and young children Carla, 8, and Blake, 6, especially the first night Adam was deployed.
“We didn’t know what was going on at first,” Chantel said.
“The kids were anxious about Adam that first night, worried about him, and couldn’t sleep.
“But once Adam got in contact and explained he was involved with back burning efforts, we all relaxed.
“He was able to speak to the kids in the morning and at night, so that made things easier for them.”
Adam said one of the country’s biggest bush fires was mostly contained when he flew back to South Australia on Saturday October 26, and warned locals needed to be prepared for the hot summer ahead.
“We’ve already had a large number of call-outs in the past few weeks,” he said.
“Property owners need to take action now to reduce fuel load, clean gutters, and prepare a fire action plan.”
The Mid-North fire season is expected to begin on November 15 and runs until April next year.
From now until the fire season starts Adam advised locals to check for any total fire ban days before burning rubbish, by contacting the local council or visiting the CFS website at www.cfs.sa.gov.au.