Take away fire fuel

Take away fire fuel

Orbost Fire Brigade Captain, Dick Johnstone, said a significant bushfire was always on the cards over the New Year period.

He believes fuel loads have not been managed well in recent years and now is the perfect opportunity to get a grip on the situation in a bid to limit such blazes moving forward.

“I think a lot of people in government and emergency agencies forget about what we always get taught about when we first become a fireman – the fire triangle,” he said. 

“The triangle teaches you there are three elements to a fire: heat, oxygen and fuel.

“They are the three ingredients and if you take any one of those out then you have a better chance at fighting the fire.

“My opinion is if we leave all these fuel loads and we don’t do the burning off, we’re going to have a lot more problems.

“Some of these areas haven’t been burnt for a long, long time. You have a look at where houses have been lost and you look at how recently those areas had been burnt back – they haven’t.

“Fuel loads have got bigger and that’s a fact.

“We’re probably pretty lucky with the way the wind changed when the fire was in at Marlo. I honestly thought if the wind didn’t change that day we could’ve been in with a lot of problems at Marlo, it could’ve been a lot worse.

“I believe they certainly have the opportunity now in areas where it hasn’t been burnt for 50 years, especially down near Marlo, it’s time now to get on top of it.

“There is obviously the Royal Commission, what will come out of that, who knows, but I certainly hope they’ve learnt something.

“I think when we have big fire we forget how much they don’t know – it seems to happen time and again.”

Cpt Johnstone backed an Orbost Chamber of Commerce push for a clearing on the Princes Highway to the New South Wales border.

The highway was shut for more than a month when fire-affected trees had fallen across the road and the risk of others loomed.

“Me, as a business person, to have the highway shut for five weeks into New South Wales, it was frustrating,” he said.

“I agree they should be clearing the roadside on the highway. I think it’s totally wrong that one of the major highways in Australia is shut for that long.

“You could go anywhere around the world and there is no way a road would be stopped for five weeks because trees had fallen across it, it just wouldn’t happen.

“People in higher places need to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”