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A Blaze Aid Experience

Page 5

Day 8 – today I was re-allocated as an offsider to an electrician.  David’s sheep-selling ring building was storing straw for his retirement straw bale house. The straw caught fire, he lost fences and sheep but no other buildings. We re-wired it, and installed lights and power points. The longest ladder would not reach the rafter, so we backed a truck into the building and stood the ladder on the truck bed. Problem sorted!

Meanwhile my wife had a frustrating day due to lack of materials – the local stock and station agents could not keep up the supply to the locals. Back at camp another five volunteers had arrived. 

Day 9 – I took a rest day, while my wife soldiered on and with her team completed her second fence line. Today a forty-year-old local miner and his seventeen-year-old son arrived; they caused the average volunteer age to plummet!

Day 10 and 11 – very cold mornings – down to 3c. Our task was to complete one kilometre of fencing along a road. The road had stopped the fire on this side of the range. In this valley no houses were lost – just fences.

Day 12 – “Nine volunteers left base camp after breakfast this morning.  Our numbers are very low.  My body is weary – this will be my last day” (my wife).  Over the past few days I had noticed she had done a painting of green shoots seen through the new fence, so after our final breakfast and farewell to fellow volunteers we drove to Rob and Therese’s and handed it over.

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Some stats – 55,000 ha/town of Uabry almost destroyed (11 houses/ church/ hall). On the other side of the fire another camp at Dunedoo had fifteen teams in field each day.

231 volunteers

45 properties

1871 volunteer days

144kms fencing erected

Average age 59 years

Median age 63 years

The farms and the farmers might recover, but things would never be the same.

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As we got home, days later, I asked my wife, “Will we do it again?”

“Yes”, she said, without hesitation.

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