By Kirra Grimes
LEONGATHA firefighters have gone viral with a video dispatch from bushfire ravaged New South Wales.
A video posted to the brigade’s Facebook page last week from Rollands Plains, near Port Macquarie, racked up more than 800,000 views in just over 24 hours, attracting comments from around the world praising the volunteers involved in the emergency response.
The 30-second video, shot by Leongatha CFA captain Dale Carruthers, shows scenes of jubilation following the arrival of much-needed rain along the mid-north coast.
Leongatha’s third lieutenant Dean Pitts and other firefighters can be seen rejoicing in the heavy downpour, grinning from ear to ear under a makeshift shelter as the bush continues to smoulder in the background.
The now world-famous footage was shot at around 3.30pm last Monday, November 25, near the home of Rollands Plains resident, Sue Regan, who can be seen literally jumping for joy in the video.
“At that stage, we were trying to strengthen the control lines along the roadside near her driveway,” Dale told the Sentinel-Times following his return to Victoria last Wednesday, November 27.
“We knew a storm front was coming, and we wanted to make sure that the backburn would take off before the rain hit.
“As the rain started, we were talking to a member of the NSW Forestry Corporation. Then, all of a sudden, there was lightning and hail.
“Just at that stage, Sue had pulled up and got out of her car in tears of joy and Dean gave her a hug.
“Then Dean went out in the rain and started to dance with joy, and that’s when I started to record the footage.
“Unfortunately, the rain landed on my phone and stopped it recording, but Sue continued to dance up the road for about 20 metres and back again!”
Dale described the moment as one that “will be with us for the rest of our lives,” and something he and Dean never aniticipated when they set out from Tullamarine last Saturday, November 23, along with around 150 other Victorian volunteers.
“We just happened to be in the right place at the right time,” he said.
The strike team Dale and Dean were part of also included Koonwarra fire brigade’s Hugh Debenham, Loch Fire Brigade’s Jake Dunn, and other volunteers from Pound Creek, Dumbalk, Foster, Glengarry, Neerim and other parts of the Latrobe Valley and West Gippsland.
Fortunately, they weren’t confronted with any life-threatening situations during their time on the frontline, Dale said.
“There was nothing too major; it’s been burning for months so they’re just trying to get it contained,” he said, adding that “without the help of the other CFA crews and other organisations from all parts of the state, before us and after us, these fires would have been a lot worse.”
If you haven’t seen the video, it’s well worth a watch. Search for ‘Leongatha Fire Brigade’ on Facebook.