Page 52

BLAKE HALFORD - CONT. Gibson Bushire Brigade Captain

We had a 100km per hour plus tail wind, so we were

We kept going until we reached the bush reserve on

still a lot of fire to contain. During this I had been contacting

driving quite quickly. Once we got out far enough ahead

Styles Road and Dempster Road. A farmer there was

my other trucks to see where they were and to get them

of the fire we stopped and gave the teacher directions

evacuating his farm and animals, before returning

to help on the front. They had come back to Scaddan

down to Esperance and out of harms way. We then

to defend. My offsider and I were sick of running and

after the fire went through and put out numerous houses

decided to try and reconnect with my other fire units.

wanted to do something, so we decided to defend until

as well as the country club. I requested them to come to

the farmer returned.

the front. Over the radio I got a blunt reply, informing me

From Liebeck Road, we headed down Scaddan Road for

that ‘we can’t leave where we are’ – with no explanation

a few kilometres before getting hold of the other crews.

Just as the fire front hit the driveway, the wind change

as to why.

They told us that the fire had already jumped Scaddan

came in from the south west. At that point the fire was still

Road and was not passable.

out of control but it wasn’t as fierce or heading towards

I managed to make contact with one of my team

us. I remember thinking, ‘Righto, we can start attacking it

members by mobile. He explained to me that they had

At one point, we stopped. We could see the flames

now.’ We mopped up around the house then continued

come across several people who hadn’t been so lucky

about three kilometres away. It was all quite surreal and

on. It was a case of ‘Where do we start?’ We were just

getting out. The units had been told to remain there until

it hadn’t really sunk in what we had just been through.

one light tanker and 500L of water.

police arrived.

out and walk a few metres to take a picture, there were

Then, through the farm land to the south came a fleet of

We continued our efforts helping control the fire on the

spot fires starting 200m in front of us. Needless to say,

vehicles – trucks, utes and water tankers. It was pretty

eastern edge. When it looked like it was under control, I

no photos were taken.

nice to see them! We organised all of them to put out

informed Gavin what I had learnt, and that I was going to

everything on the southern boundary of Scaddan Road,

go back and try to get the other units back online.

We got out to take a photo, but by the time it took to get

Back in the light tanker, we headed east until we saw

then headed up Styles Road to get ahead of the fire. The

Peter Harkness in his private vehicle, he informed us we

fire was heading north east and we needed appliances

On the way back, we followed the northern edge of the fire

wouldn’t be able to go any further east as the fire had

up there. On the way we ran in to Scaddan Captain, Gavin

along Coolgardie Highway and relayed the information

jumped Scaddan Road. This was confirmed by my units

Egan, who had his farm unit. After a quick discussion we

back to Gavin Egan. We returned to Grigg Road to where

over the radio. We then started to leap frog from property

split up. We would secure the south-east section of the

our two units were stationed. Other brigade members that

to property to warn everyone and make sure everyone

fire with a few units whilst Gavin went to secure the north

were on station had organised relief crews for our trucks,

was out of harms way, and ask people to check on

east.

but one person from each truck had to stay on each

their neighbours. It was still very dark and we were still

After the south-east section was secure we headed up to

incident. My main aim at that point was to get the trucks

separated from the rest of our crew.

the north east corner to render assistance, as there was

back extinguishing the fire.

pg 50 | blake halford

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