Hundreds pack Snake Valley community fire meeting

ABOUT 200 people crammed into the Snake Valley Community Hall yesterday to officially learn of the damage that had been caused by Tuesday’s fire and to take their first steps towards recovery.

There was barely room to move in the packed hall, with some people listening in from the front foyer and others conceding they could not fit in the room, choosing to wait outside.

There, the community learnt of what had happened, but also voiced its concern over the lack of communication at the height of the fire.

In total nine homes were destroyed, with six people taken to hospital with minor injuries and smoke inhalation.

CFA operations officer Brett Boatman said the general firefighting response was extremely pleasing, with CFA and DSE personnel managing to restrict the fire as best as possible.

At one point during the meeting, a resident who came desperately close to losing his house thanked the firefighters for their efforts, starting a round of applause among the meeting.

However, there were concerns about a lack of communication at critical times.

Some residents complained that the CFA website crashed and, with no power in the town, others said they were left to fend for themselves with no radio or internet connection.

David Shaw, a Hamilton resident, was staying in a caravan on Fitzpatricks Lane, which runs off Station Lane.

Mr Shaw was among a small group of people who gathered at the community hall on the night of the fires, trying to gather information about what was happening.

“I think it was very poor that no one came down here to tell us what was going on,” he said.

Pyrenees Shire mayor Michael O’Connor promised there would be a battery-operated radio installed in the hall and said the council would work with residents.

patrick.nolan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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