Hawkesbury RFS officers sent to fight Tasmanian bushfires

SPECIAL OPERATION: Six remote special operations fire fighters from the Hawkesbury Rural Fire Service have been sent to fight the Tasmanian bushfires. Picture: Hawkesbury RFS Facebook.
SPECIAL OPERATION: Six remote special operations fire fighters from the Hawkesbury Rural Fire Service have been sent to fight the Tasmanian bushfires. Picture: Hawkesbury RFS Facebook.

TWO specialist remote area firefighters from the Hawkesbury have returned home from fighting the Tasmanian bushfires with six others heading down this week as more than 70 fires ravage the state.

Hawkesbury crews form part of a larger contingent, made up of ACT Parks and Conservation and ACT Rural Fire Service, working on the fireground at Zeehan (Western Tasmania). 

Once there, they worked together with firefighters from Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) and Tasmania Parks and Wildlife.

With many  bushfires still burning across the state six more specialist personal from the Hawkesbury will head down to assist local crews this week.

A spokesperson for Hawkesbury RFS said crews worked extremely hard in remote terrain, only accessible via helicopter. 

“The crews were winched in to helipads near the fireground, having to walk the remaining distance to the fire itself,” the spokesperson said.

“As a team, they worked on several fires in the local area. Many of them contained peat which is extremely hard to extinguish. 

“The burning peat had to be dug up with a Pulaski tool (cross between an axe and a mattock) and then saturated. 

“They had extensive hose lays from a lake in the local area, up the steep hills, and from portable dams that had been dropped on top of the hills by helicopter.”

According to recent media reports the Tasmanian fires have not only threatened towns and communities, but some of the most unique rainforests in the world. 

At Lake Mackenzie and Lake Bill on the Central Plateau ancient pencil and King Billy pines have been burnt and fire threatens the last remaining large stand of pencil pines in the Jerusalem National Park.

The fire at Mt Wedge, in the states south, is burning directly upwind of Mt Anne; with its King Billy pine rainforests and unique tree-line pencil pine and cushion plant communities.

Pencil pines and King Billy pines live for 1500 years and are found nowhere else on the planet. Some reports claim that these Tasmania’s mountains have not seen fire since before the last ice age, which ended 12,000 years ago.

Earlier this month six Hawkesbury RFS firefighters flew to Western Australia to help crews battle the Perth bushfires.