Hundreds of stock lost in Goulburn fires
It was Friday the 11th January 2013 and fires raged around Goulburn, NSW Australia. The towns of Crookwell, Laggan, Tarlo, Cooma, Yass were surrounded by fire. Hundreds of livestock had already been lost. Many homes and properties were under threat. Hour after hour, water bombers flew overhead and the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church launched into action.
‘We need water — urgently!’
After discussions with the Regional Fire Command, we quickly established that the Rural Fire Service was in drastic need of support. We were instructed by the service to provide three avenues of relief —
1. water bottles to stranded motorists on the highway
2. cold water supplies to the fire fighters on the frontline, and
3. bulk water supply for their tankers.
Planning took place overnight and the next morning we launched into action.
7 Water bombers in action
A 21,000 litre water tank on a semi-trailer was positioned in place at Goulburn Air Base. This was to supply bulk water for refilling the aircraft. Each of the 7 water bomber stationed at the air base had a capacity of 3,000 litres of water which was mixed with a fire retardant solution. The water bombers operated with amazing effectiveness and were dispatched one after the other to the fire front as the fire threatened livestock and properties.
We delivered over 6,000 bottles of water
As the day continued, teams of young Brethren members headed to the hotspots armed with cold water bottle supplies. They were met with great appreciation from the fire-fighters. Water supplies were running low and in Yass, they’d nearly run out completely. Our volunteers were met with hugs and thankfulness from the operators at the relief centres, and we didn’t stop there. We set up barbeques at the Goulburn Airbase and were soon filling hungry stomachs with sausage sandwiches.
No day of rest
Our food must have hit the spot because they asked us to supply bacon and egg rolls for breakfast at the Air-Base on Sunday morning. After breakfast, the fire fighters reloaded for the day with supplies of water bottles provided by the Plymouth Brethren.
On at least two occasions over the next few weeks, the Brethren again provided 21,000-litre loads of water at Boorowa and Cowra to help fight the fires. The bulk water supply was placed at strategic locations in the fire zone so that fire fighters could refill their tankers without having to travel outside the zone. The water supplies provided by the Brethren saved the fire-fighters precious time and allowed them to keep doing their courageous job as efficiently as possible.