Two CFA Strike Teams of volunteer firefighters have returned home after helping South Australia’s Country Fire Service’s response to a large grassfire at Blackford in the state’s southeast on Monday night and yesterday.
The Blackford fire, which burnt over 14,000 hectares started burning on Monday afternoon with hot, windy and dry conditions quickly causing the fire to burn out of control, towards Avenue and Lucindale.
A request was made for support from CFA as part of cross-border arrangements between South Australia and Victoria, and a Strike Team travelled from CFA District 17 on Monday evening for a night shift. It was made up by volunteer firefighters from Apsley group, Bringalbert South, Dergholm, Karnak and Neuarpurr fire brigades.
Another Strike Team, made up by volunteer firefighters from Merino group and Digby, Merino, Wando Bridge and Sandford fire brigades, travelled from CFA’s District 4 yesterday morning for a day shift on the fire.
CFA Commander Steve Giddens accompanied the Strike Teams as Liaison Officer, based out of CFS’s Region 5 Headquarters yesterday.
“South Australia was hit pretty hard with a fast-moving grassfire on Monday and asked for some support. Fortunately they got it under control that night but the forecast is warmer again for today so we wanted to help get as much work done as possible before then,” he said.
The District 4 Strike Team spent yesterday on the Westland sector of the fire, working in a north-westerly direction towards the origin.
“They were blackening out and strengthening containment lines ahead of today’s conditions,” Commander Giddens said.
CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan commended the CFA Districts for quickly organising the Strike Teams in support of CFS.
“Not only are Victoria’s volunteer firefighters protecting life and property in their own communities, but we always stand ready to support communities and colleagues in our neighbouring states,” he said. “I want to thank our members for their time and commitment, and wish South Australia good luck with the continued firefight this season.”
Chief Officer Heffernan said the Blackford fire in South Australia has also brought into focus the need for all Victorians to plan and prepare for the local fire season.
“It is important to understand and know the risks in your local area. Have a plan for what you and your family will do in the event of a fire and know where to access the latest emergency information,” he said.
Today, Wednesday 13 January 2021, is a Total Fire Ban in the Wimmera, Mallee and Northern Country Victorian fire weather districts.