Volunteers rally to fight the flames

By Bree Swift and Leah Tindale
February 9 2022 - 11:00pm
Two firefighting appliances collided at the Shackleton bushfire, a DFES spokesman confirmed. According to DFES the people involved in the collision have received medical attention and there were no life-threatening injuries. Images taken from Burges Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade captain Rhys Turton's truck at Quairading fire last Sunday.

BUSHFIRE brigade volunteers came from near and far to help out those in need on the weekend, with many knowing all too well that the weather conditions on Saturday were ideal for catastrophic fires.

Burges Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade captain Rhys Turton, who attended the Quairading fire with two fellow volunteers from 1pm until 9pm on Sunday, said he saw scores of volunteer brigade trucks and farmer units that had number plates from Shires a long distance away, all lined up to help where he was stationed.

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Not knowing the area too well and with poor phone reception, Mr Turton was unable to rely on the usual WhatsApp system used by fire brigade volunteers to communicate with one another and gain information about the fires.

As a result he was forced to rely on the radio communications, which he said were a bit chaotic.

"Someone would radio through that there was a house at risk and then another would radio through that were sheds at risk and really it was just one after the other, so the radio comms were definitely 100 per cent active," Mr Turton said.

"It was quite cluttered at times, and understandably so, as there was a lot of activity in a lot of spots."

Mr Turton said he witnessed the loss of stock and said soil erosion would be one of the challenges for farmers affected going forward.

"There will be a lot of fencing to do, obviously there will be insurance claims to sort out and I think there will be a bit of distress from those impacted, so it's important to look out for your mates, as there would have been whole farms wiped out," Mr Turton said.

Also one of the volunteers who descended on Murray Williams' Quairading property and helped save his house from the fire, Mr Turton said it was a great effort from everybody involved.

"It was the most bizarre day because when we first got there it was about 42 degrees and the temperature dropped by about 25o in six hours, but then there was a relentless wind that didn't give up," Mr Turton said.

"It's probably the biggest fire in the Wheatbelt that I can recall and it was horrendous conditions so it was great to see everyone just get there and help in any way that they could."

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