Rescue relief

By Olivia Duffey

Three members of the Deniliquin Volunteer Rescue Association have so far volunteered to provide assistance in fire affected areas.

Jessica Holloway was stationed at the Yass Regional Operation Centre from December 31 to January 1, before heading to Bega with Captain Chris Holloway from January 2 to 11.
Wes Follett was based in Tumut from January 1 to 4.

‘‘Deniliquin squad members assisted with general land rescue and road crash rescue, relieving local area squad members who were involved in defending their own properties and communities,’’ said Mrs Holloway, who was strike team leader.

‘‘Emergency Operation Centre tasking also included the logistics of food and water supplies to Rural Fire Service volunteers in the field and evacuation centres, and community support.

‘‘We additionally undertook radio operations and assisted police with the evacuation of Eden on January 4.’’

The Dunns Rd fire at Tumut left vistas of wasteland in its wake.

The local squad members worked alongside the Wagga, Leeton, Corowa, Binalong, Batlow, Central Coast, Tweed Heads, Quirindi, Bega and WICEN (Amateur Radio Emergency Communications) squads.

Travelling between Yass and Bega was calculated carefully, with the threat of Werri Berri Fire possibly closing the Snowy Mountains Hwy for a period of time.

On arrival in Bega, the Holloways were immediately tasked with community engagement, assisting police and the Bega SES units.

They were specifically targeted to the area between Doctor George Mountain and Cuttagee Beach.

Days later catastrophic conditions were forecast for the region, and the threat to the town of Eden became evident.

The Holloways assisted police with an immediate evacuation, before the fire was expected to reach the town later that day on January 4.

The VRA volunteers also delivered information from welfare agencies for fire affected communities, assisted with medical evacuation transfers from Pambula to Bega and completed welfare checks with police.

Mrs Holloway additionally provided support in the Bega Emergency Operations Centre, to relieve the local VRA liaison officer, and was required to oversee and manage crews to support the emergency operations being undertaken.

Some property and surrounding land was destroyed or damaged in the the Dunns Rd fire at Tumut

At Tumut, Mr Follett assisted with support for RFS crews in the Batlow, Tumbarumba, Tarcutta areas, transferring resources, conducting community engagement and welfare activities, and provided an escort for Batlow evacuees into the town after the fire.

‘‘Although VRA members were not directly fighting the fires, the VRA assistance played a major role within the emergency operations and in supporting the fire brigades working tirelessly in the field,’’ Capt Holloway said.

‘‘The generosity and appreciation that we received by the communities was overwhelming considering the devastation and losses these people were experiencing,’’ Mrs Holloway added.

Fires are still active and being monitored, but most out of area volunteers have been stood down. Emergency services across the country remain on stand-by should further assistance be required.