Page 118

GEOFF CLOSE - CONT. Lieutenant, Esperance Volunteer Fire and Rescue

It was good to be able to find some lighter moments in

The huge timber dominated how the burns were done.

between all the craziness of running between two fires.

Other guys went along tapping on trees to ascertain

A lot of the time on the fire ground was spent dealing

whether they were hollow ‘stags’ that would harbour fire.

with various obstacles. The Merivale fire proved to have

If so they were marked and pushed over.

its own set of challenges, particularly within the dunes and lake systems. Light trucks were the only vehicles

The value of local knowledge is one of the first things

capable of accessing the dunes without it becoming

you learn when you train as a firefighter and without it

treacherous.

we wouldn’t have known the safest, most effective way to assist.

Wind conditions within dunes are also difficult to predict. The wind could be blowing one direction in one location

My lasting impression of the fires will always be Scaddan

– but a few hundred metres away may have veered

townsite on that Wednesday morning. I can still see it

due to being funnelled by dune structures. Winds were

now, as clearly as if it were yesterday. Driving through

blustery as it was, and a flank fire in the morning could

and seeing the utter destruction.

become the head fire just hours later. We spent a lot of time watching the ribbons of tape that we tied onto

I have been fighting fires for about 15 years and I had not

the ute antennas, which quickly showed us the wind

seen destruction on that scale before. And I hope that we

direction. The grounds around lakes were challenging

never have to see it again.

for machinery as well, and local knowledge was very important in getting anything done. This had been reinforced just months earlier, when part of the brigade went to assist at the Boddington fires. After doing asset protection we were tasked with backburning. We were instructed to black out (burn) 100 metres in and 10 metres up, which is a completely different method to what we use in Esperance.

pg 116 | GEOFF close

Profile for shireofesperance

Our Bushfire Recovery Story  

"Our Bushfire Recovery Story" is a memoir of community strength & resilience. As part of the Recover, Rejuvenate, Restore Project, an invita...

Our Bushfire Recovery Story  

"Our Bushfire Recovery Story" is a memoir of community strength & resilience. As part of the Recover, Rejuvenate, Restore Project, an invita...