Page 72

“A STORY OF TWO BUSHFIRES” - WILL CARMODY - CONT. Captain of the Cascade Volunteer Bushfire Brigade. Will was Senior Fire Control Officer for Shire of Esperance West Zone 2. Incident Control Officer with Shire of Esperance at Level 1 fire.

Fire trucks were on site by seven, waiting in readiness for

Until another machine arrived, the clearing chain and

An hour later at 6pm, a second bulldozer for the chaining

backburning. An incident control van (ICV) was brought

associated bulldozer would have to sit idle.

effort finally arrived and the chain once again began to

up from town to act as the operations centre, as the scale

move, as we tried to make some sort of headway with

of efforts to halt the fire continued to build. Esperance

Early afternoon I went up for another scout, this time in

the buffer breaks that made up plan B. Originally, we had

operations were still busy with fires in Merivale.

a neighbour’s plane, taking more images and checking

wanted to back burn along these breaks as well, but with

on both the fire and bulldozer’s progress. Whilst airborne

the time, weather and machine issues the backburning

By 9am local farmers were organised into a harvest

we received aircraft to aircraft communications from the

had to be scrapped.

and plough crew. They promptly set about harvesting

chopper, who had once again come out to allow a better

boundary crops near the fire, all for good reason.

aerial view. A bit after 2pm we landed, and I jumped

The tracking bulldozer managed to work until 11.30pm

Everyone was cutting the stubble down short, in an effort

into the chopper. We also picked up officers from Parks

before poor visibility in the dangerous terrain forced it

to lower the carrying capacity of the crops in case the

and Wildlife and while in the air we all discussed what I

to knock off. The lake systems were treacherous and

fire did break free of the bush. The existing stubble was

believed we needed to do. Everyone was in agreeance.

working under lights became too dangerous, as the

then turned over, instantly creating a firebreak. In total

It was good to know we were all on the same page with

ground would suddenly turn into sharp drop offs, which

an area 300m wide by 15 kilometres in length, was

the plans.

were hidden in the darkness.

From the air, it soon became apparent that the bulldozer

With the coming day’s weather forecast weighing on

harvested and ploughed in. The efforts did not stop until 11pm Monday night.

had overshot the turning mark for where it would finally

my mind, I continued to organise things until half past

The second set of dozers, which had been organised

start cutting directly to the fire. The issue was made

midnight, getting home at about 1am. Five hours later

the day before, had hold ups getting on site. The

worse with the poor ability to have any air to ground

I was out of bed. The morning was almost ominously

clearing chain we needed also didn’t arrive. At 11am,

communications from the plane. Once back down I had

still and cool. The only sign of the fire was a few puffs of

we got hold of another chain, which was towed up with

to chase the bulldozer down via vehicle, before getting it

smoke on the horizon.

a farm tractor to where operations base was taking

back on track.

shape. With no dozers, a farm tractor and loader were hooked to the chain. They got going for about

At 5pm, the helicopter came back out again and this time

an hour before a hydraulic hose ripped off by a stick

I went up with Tom Brown and Ash Stewart, updating them

stopped operations in their tracks. By 1pm, one of the

on what was happening. The first bulldozer had only just

chaining bulldozers arrived on site, however the second

reached the fire front at 5pm, so we took the operator up

machine had some issues and had failed to materialise.

in the helicopter to show him where he needed to go.

pg 70 | WILL CARMODY

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...