Local forestry firefighting strike team returns from north coast emergency

A 17-strong strike team of Forestry Corporation firefighters from Batemans Bay, Narooma and Eden has returned from the north coast after a week-long deployment as part of the emergency response to wildfires last week.

Forestry Corporation of NSW Forest Protection Manager Karel Zejbrlik said the firefighters were deployed to large fires mainly on private property near Wauchope and Gloucester on the mid north coast as part of the state’s coordinated firefighting effort.

“Last week there were unprecedented hot and dry conditions around NSW and dozens of wildfires broke out throughout the State and needed to be contained,” Mr Zejbrlik said.

“When it comes to firefighting it’s all hands on deck, so all our firefighters were on call locally and when conditions eased down south we deployed a strike team of 17 forest firefighters to relieve north coast crews and help bring a number of dangerous blazes under control.

“Our south coast firefighters have extensive experience managing fire in local State forests and they were able to bring their specialist skills to the fire front where they were instrumental in saving 45 homes and preventing large-scale damage.”

Mr Zejbrlik said the fires were now mostly contained following coordinated efforts by firefighters from Forestry Corporation, the Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue NSW and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

“One of the most dangerous blazes in the State was at Pappinbarra near Wauchope, where more than 1,200 hectares was burnt and several homes were lost,” Mr Zejbrlik said.

“With the conditions we had last week, that fire could have been a whole lot worse if we weren’t in a position to quickly deploy crews and machinery to attack and extinguish fire outbreaks.

“The south coast strike team gave us some of the extra manpower we needed to bring these fires under control. Their specialist skills in managing heavy machinery and back burning was particularly important and welcomed by the local fire fighters and property owners.”

Forestry Corporation is responsible for more than two million hectares of native and plantation forests and has been formally involved in firefighting in NSW for 100 years.

Media contact: Elizabeth Fowler 9407 4265/ 0408 779 903