Page 38

IAN HARTLEY’S STORY - CONT. Quarry Road Bushfire Brigade Esperance Fire & Rescue Brigade

same terms to get back out onto the burnt ground. Which

desperately to light a smoke, but shaking that badly he

the flames flattened out horizontally reaching to the

I will say we didn’t need much encouragement to do in

had to hold the lighter on the headboard of the truck,

other side. We made it down to about 400 metres from

the end. It was then another hurry up and wait moment,

lowering his mouth with the smoke between his lips, to

Merivale/Tyrrell’s Road intersection and were turned

as we had to sit and allow the fire to burn safely around

the lighter. We all had a giggle at poor Murray’s expense.

around by our captain, as the visibility had dropped from

and past us.

100’s of metres to a few feet. In through properties, out I think that’s when I realised that if we were 20 minutes

onto Tyrrell Road. Our crews needed to save the homes

Todd and Murray went for a walk to the top of the dune,

earlier we would have been out in amongst wattle that

just up there on the right. We were then re-deployed out

as the fire had passed the dozer and it might be able

was three to four metres in height. It would have been a

to Jim Ovens Road, to take some machines into Lyndon

to be saved. Todd drove the light tanker up to the dozer

very small canoe in a big creek with no paddle and a

for construction of containment lines over night.

staying well clear of the hot machine. Andy pulled out the

head wind so to speak. Murray had made a good call.

hose and with me on the branch we got to work. Up one

While waiting for the fire to burn around us to get out,

After getting the machines into Lyndon he knocked us

side then down the other, the heat was fantastic, so I wet

we had all been listening to the speed at which the fires

off and we headed home. Listening to the command

down my boots then back into it. A great result, burnt off

had been travelling and marking off the distances in our

channel after we had reported we were returning to the

some of the paint and lost the cab. But that was about all

minds toward the Scaddan town site. We made it back to

fire shed, we heard the haunting news that the detectives

the visible damage. I told Murray to pull out the air filters

Annie’s Lane and Stockyards just a bit before sun down.

required fire suppression overnight. Andy questioned the

as these can re-start the fire in the engine bay and if no

The boys that had been trapped with us, were released

need for this and both John and I explained as best we

one was around the machine could be lost. I destroyed

to return to their properties around Scaddan and do the

could, the sad requirements of finding and protecting the

my boots, which in the days following would cause me

best that they could under the conditions. John had done

scene of an accident or crime during fires.

some pain.

a spot forecast with a weather metre for Rowey, we still had wind gusts up to 60 kms per hour. It was still going

While we were now safe, Tom and Todd decided that

to be a long night.

they would push down to the beach and come back in

Up again early and back to the station. We had fuelled and watered up the night before so we were ready to

from the national park. A funny moment was that I had

Out onto Merivale Road and along to Tyrrell’s Road - the

go. I walked into the shed to have John tell us all that it

overheated and was sitting in the front of the truck, AC

plan was to stop the front when it came out of the trees.

was Freddy Curnow, two ladies and another young bloke

on, sipping water and wetting down my gear. I asked

We didn’t have a chance. We were behind one of the

that had sadly been killed the day before while trying to

John if Murray would like to go on some oxygen. He

Merivale trucks and another Quarry Road crew in a two-

out run the fire front in Scaddan. I turned around walked

declined the offer, Andy tried to explain without laughing

point-four. Flame heights of 40 to 50 metres pushed up

outside and dropped to my knees at the front wheel of

that Murray was sitting on the back of the truck trying

from the blue gums and then when it hit Merivale Road,

my ute. Big Tim walked over and put his hand on my

pg 36 | ian hartley

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...