THE recent Grantville bushfire started on a day of fairly “benign” conditions, emphasising the need for everyone to be prepared and have a bushfire plan, according to firefighters.
Two separate lightning strikes were the cause of the bushfire in the Grantville Nature Reserve, which started at around 11.30am on Friday.
And the worst of it, according to firefighters, occurred on Friday and Saturday – despite the hottest and most worrisome day being the Sunday.
At a community meeting on Wednesday evening, Kernot-Grantville CFA captain Andrew Blackney said they were not what he’d describe as “bad fire danger days”.
“They were not days where we would say to the community: ‘You need to go away from the area because it’s a total fire ban day’.
“Sunday was supposed to the worst day, we were lucky, we had sea breezes all day and we didn’t get the north winds because they were a real worry for us. The sea breezes gave us enough trouble,” Mr Blackney said.
“If that had been on a really bad day, and we know tomorrow’s the 10th anniversary of Black Saturday, but if we had that and this fire – it could’ve been terrible.”
At peak times on Friday and Saturday, there were around 50 vehicles battling the blaze.
In total, around 300 vehicles attended.
CFA incident controller Paul Carrigg said a lot of effort went into fighting the fire.
“It all makes it worthwhile when we see all of you here,” Mr Carrigg told a crowd of around 70 residents at the meeting.
He said firefighters would remain at the reserve until the fire was “100 per cent” extinguished.
“I think we’ve dodged a bullet. We have lost some fencing and that’s it,” he said.
“There was potential to lose a whole lot more; residences, possibly lives – we’re very lucky.”
Mr Blackney said the brigade’s plan was to keep it within the park and not let it reach
“Other than a series of spot fires here, there and all over the place – we were able to do that with fantastic resources,” Mr Blackney said, while praising the efforts of all agencies involved.
There was also a rehabilitation team set-up near the Grantville Hall who helped to rehydrate and cool down 800 firefighters.
“When we say 800, some went through multiple times. We had to send a couple of firefighters away in an ambulance because they got heat stressed, but everyone was OK.
“It was a massive community event,” he said of the 35 people involved in helping in the rehabilitation area.
“You see the big red trucks driving up and down the road and the firefighters who are effectively putting their lives on the line to protect the community, but there’s always the background people that are there to help, and they are just as important.
Senior Sergeant Andy O’Brien said the cooperation between agencies was fantastic.
He praised the community’s attitude during roadblocks, including the Bass Highway closure.
He said some people dropped off food to police and other emergency services.
“It was a real team effort. The firefighters, most of which are volunteers, are selfless,” Snr Sgt O’Brien said.
He added it was inspiring watching them fight the blaze.
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