Premier visits fire-affected communities

Tony Pasin, CFS Chief Mark Jones, Minister for emergency Services Vincent Tarzia, CFS Regional Commander John Probert, Premier Steven Marshall and Lucindale CFS group officer Patrick Ross, who shows Mr Marshall the affected areas on a map on Friday.
Tony Pasin, CFS Chief Mark Jones, Minister for emergency Services Vincent Tarzia, CFS Regional Commander John Probert, Premier Steven Marshall and Lucindale CFS group officer Patrick Ross, who shows Mr Marshall the affected areas on a map on Friday.

Premier Steven Marshall visited Lucindale and Avenue last week in the wake of the Blackford fire, which saw properties lost, a firefighter injured and large numbers of stock dead.

The fire started on Monday afternoon and quickly spread, burning 14,000 hectares before being brought under control Monday night.

The premier has praised the quick work of more than 250 volunteer firefighters who battled the blaze.

"This is a community which has been doing it tough over the last week with the significant Blackford fire," he said.

"it is contained because of the hard work of the CFS working with emergency services and SAPOL but most importantly a fantastic, resilient and hard-working local community.

"This is a fantastically resilient community, it is a community that had worked extraordinarily well together this past week, working with state government agencies, but also the incredible volunteers we have in the CFS in South Australia

"This fire could have gone horribly wrong. But it is fantastic work that the CFS has done, and in particular I have to acknowledge Patrick Ross who was the Incident controller and John Probert who is the regional commander down here.

"Their planning, their work on the ground, the coordination with the emergency services and in particular the air crew, has meant this fire has been contained with no loss of life, a minimal injury to volunteers and minimising property damage."

Despite his praise for the community, he said there would be no financial help from the state government to aid in the recovery of the community.

"We don't typically provide compensation to every single fire incident in South Australia.

"Of course, last year was an exceptional situation where it was very difficult for us as a state government to get high level support out to the number of people who were simultaneously affected so there were some grants, both from the federal government and the state government.

"We have practical support in the ground now with PIRSA, we are working with the local government in and we have appointed a recovery officer.

"So we are still getting that rapid damage assessment, we understand that a lot of that in insured.

"There still will be a rebuilding program and we will look at providing some support where we can.

"We are happy to continue to talk about this incident but at this stage we are not looking at providing the same level of cash grants that were provided with the fire last year."

Lucindale CFS group officer Patrick Ross said the Lucindale locals had been prepared for the fire season, after a meeting last year.

"Following the Keilira fire last year, the Lucindale community said we want to have a meeting and talk about being fire ready, and talking about what is our last place of refuge so they did have an idea," he said.

"So all the discussion was held last year, so when we asked them to evacuate this end of town, that's what they did.

"There is nothing like being prepared and having a plan."

CFS Regional Commander John Probert said a firefighter received first degree burns to his hand.

"The gentleman concerned took his glove off to have a drink of water, and at that point is when the firefront hit their vehicle," he said.

"It's not huge, it is first degree burns, he will get through that.

"He was dehydrated and that is always an issue with something like this, trying to get enough water into people.

"We stress it over and over, but in the middle of a firefight, people tend to forget."

HOW A WELL-KNOWN PIONEER HELPED TO SLOW THE FIRE

A drain, named after a pioneer of Avenue Range, has been credited for helping to prevent the further spread of the dangerous bushfire.

Lucindale CFS group officer Patrick Ross told Mr Marshall on Friday that the fire was slowed down by a large drain which runs through the area - the Jacky White Drain.

"As you can see the fire started here and moved in that direction, and then it hit Jacky White Drain which was a natural fire break for all 13 kilometers," he told Mr Marshall.

"If that wasn't there, this fire would have been across that landscape at the same time which would have taken it from 14,000 to 50,000 hectares.

"So that was incredibly valuable in the day."

John 'Jacky' White was a pastoralist who, in 1843, took European ownership of land in the Avenue region.

Mr White had a holding of 135 square miles across Reedy Creek, Keilira, Crower and Lucindale, by 1843.

He passed away aged 70 in December 1860, after being trampled by a mob of cattle.

This story Premier visits fire-affected communities first appeared on Naracoorte Herald.