Halfway Creek 7 was again called out around 8 pm to check on flames seen by a Florda Red Drive resident and although it was deemed as safe it is expected that these call outs will continue until we get the promised rain. Whilst out we checked and extinguished a large tree which had fallen across the fire break near Dinjerra Road. This was completed and we were back home in time to see the last bit of the league game..
Cat 7 was patrolling along the Florda Drives and answered a call to yet another outbreak and a burning tree across the road. They also visited Grafton Police Station where the captain made a statement on what he understood had happened.
Mid morning the fire appeared to spark up again with a lot of smoke developing. We contacted Fire Control and we were asked to respond. Halfway Creek 7 (HWC7) left the station just after noon arrived at the fire to find Lanitza 7 on scene but fire was too big and had gotten well away. One of our crew joined Lanitza 7 which immediately left to refill its water tank. We considered attempting to get in front of fire to attempt to cut it off, but it was far too risky. We advised FCC of the situation and that we needed further assistance and a plan. Lanitza 1 arrived and it was decided to investigate the homes on Orara River in the probable path of fire. Support 6 arrived and did a quick recce of fire and the potentially threatened houses.
All crews were sent to burn and black out around the first threatened property on McGills but soon after HWC7 was redeployed to the second threatened property. Sherwood Ck 1 arrived to assist us and the house perimeter was quickly lit and edges blacked out. At the same time the other crews were doing much the same at the first property. While HWC7 did a final check the Sherwood crew lit up the eastern edge of the long access driveway (the west side was burnt in the previous McGills Road fire). We followed them out soon after, at times driving through flames on both sides of the track. We refilled our water tanks from Lanitza 1 on McGills Rd and arranged a crew change at 6 pm. The other units lit up along McGills Road towards The Orara Way to lock in the fire. We were tasked to assist Lanitza 7 (still with one of our crew) with a burn from the area of the original fire out to the Orara Way and along Orara Way to the powerlines just short of the Bluff Bridge. This area lit up like an incendiary and burnt fiercely up into the tree tops threatening to but fortunately not spotting over the road. This back burn was completed by about 10:30pm and we were stood down leaving Lanitza 7 with one of our crew as the night watch. A special thanks to Chris from Lanitza brigade who arrived with a much appreciated dinner for our crews.
We were enjoying a quite Sunday afternoon when we noticed a large pall of smoke coming from the direction of the McGills Road fire, it didn't look good but we assumed it was another back-burn. However shortly there after the phone rang and we were called to assist. The fire was actually on the Orara Way just north of McGills Rd. It appeared to be unrelated to the McGills Rd fire and will be probably be investigated. Although not a big fire (about 10ha) the tracks were rough and difficult access to the east towards Orara Way meant the final burn line had to be covered with a 60 m hose run from our Cat 7 and the final blacking out of this area was done by Anna Bay 1 & Scotts Flat 7 from the area around the house. The assistance we received from the Hunter Region strike team was much appreciated and water was again supplied by Ulmarra 6 Clarence Valley RFS's water tanker. The fire was locked in a pretty much blacked out by 8 pm and the Hunter crews were stood down and we left with Braunstone 7 after a bit more blacking out at 9 pm.
The Halfway Creek Cat 1 was initially tasked to check and mark any dangerous trees on the Highway but pretty soon we were sent to Boundary Road, Kremnos to assist Glenreagh 7 and some Sydney crews with back burn to cover houses in Boundary Rd and Grahams Close. We did a burn from rear of 2 and 3 Grahams Close then along Orara Way and finally with the assistance of Plumbton 1 we back burnt along the southern property boundary to link the burns up. By then the active fire was running up the hill towards Orara Way and rather than trying to control it from the road way. Our driver was able to reversed the Cat 1 about 350 meters up the power line track so we could back burn along the track edge from the dozer track at 18 Boundary Rd to join up with our previous burn. After this was completed we had an AAR and returned to station around 8pm.
Halfway Creek Cat 7 did a patrol and check of fires in Florda Drives, whilst on patrol they met and briefed the fire investigators. In the afternoon they delivered lunches to the crews on the Dinjerra Road Fire and then were tasked to cover the dozer cutting fire trails in the area. They too had a long day.
Prior to the Halfway Creek RFS general meeting the Cat 7 returned to a couple of properties in Florda Red Drive to collect loaned equipment from land owners, whilst there they completed a quick patrol. They returned to station in time for a cuppa and the meeting
At around 10 am the Halfway Creek Cat 1 arrived at Parker Road and was dispatched to assist our Cat 7 with a back burn in Gum Tree Road off East Lanitza Road. Accessing the track was difficult for the larger truck and not long after we got started with the back burn we were called away. The Cat 7 remained here all day until late evening preventing any more fire from impacting on the railway. After lunch they received some welcome assistance from Cumberland crews (Sydney) with this.
The Cat 1 was diverted to investigate a 000 call in Clearview Rd Coutts Crossing. There had been a fire cross Armidale Rd recently but we couldn't find any fire in Clearview Rd. We were sent to assist crews with protecting houses along Kangaroo Ck Road whilst the fixed-wing water bombers attacked the fire. The Cat 1 was tasked to do an off road run with a compact-tracked loader to check the fire boundary prior to starting several back burns behind the homes to establish a blacked out security zone. This was accomplished by around 6 pm and we were all stood down for the night. On our return trip we again met up with our Cat 7 giving them drip torch fuel for the Sydney crews.
Saturday morning we picked up the Cat 1 and Cat 7 after they had been winched out of the bog at Florda Prince Drive and drove back to station to refill and refuel it. The Cat 7 worked mainly in the Florda Red and Florda Prince Drives patrolling and mopping up small outbreaks
The Cat 1 left the station after midday and was initially tasked to assist the Northern Rivers strike team crews with a back burn along Parker Rd to prevent its further progress and to protect another home. From here the Cat 1 was sent to Qwyarigo Road, Braunstone to check on a report that there was fire on the western side of the railway line. This proved to be correct and so we remained at the property at the end of the Qwyarigo Road until after dark burning back and blacking out to protect the house. During the afternoon the railway was closed to all trains for several hours.
On our way back to the station we called at Parker Rd to report the current situation to Incident Controller.