Firefighters return home to Ballarat and Bacchus Marsh

PHOTOS: Fighting the Forcett Fire from the sky

A SECOND round of career and volunteer firefighters from Ballarat and Bacchus Marsh have returned home after taking to the frontline of some of Tasmania’s worst bushfires over the past week.

Six firefighters from the Eureka District which encompasses Ballarat, and five from Bacchus Marsh ended their five-day interstate deployment yesterday.

They were working to contain and black out parts of the Forcett fire near Hobart which has already burned more than 24,000 hectares. District 15 strike team leader Bill Cook said the decision to go was simple.

“With what they’ve gone through it was a pleasure to go over and help the Tasmanians in their hour of need,” he said.

“Their services were really stretched and they were quite tired so it was great to share the load and give them a bit of a break and get them off the line.”

Mr Cook, who’s been fighting fires as a volunteer for more than 30 years, said the team worked well together.

“I’m proud of the guys, the two separate groups hadn’t worked together before but we all went out there and worked really well and blended together,” he said.

“We all learnt something along the way and we’ve all come back better for it.”

But with extreme heat predicted for Ballarat tomorrow, Mr Cook said his crew would get straight back into it.

“Here it’s getting drier and windier and obviously there’s been a couple of fires nearby,” he said. “We’ll have a couple of days rest and then be ready to go again.”

District 15 operations manager Geoffrey Gray praised the firefighters for their efforts.

“The CFA is built on helping your mate and helping the community and that’s what it’s all about,” he said.

“When we’ve got fires here we’d expect people to come and help us from other districts and other locations as they’ve done previously.”

Ballarat brigades also sent six appliances and 28 personnel to Kentbruck in the state’s south west where a large fire burnt more than 11,000 hectares.

Mr Gray said that with recent fire activity in the Ballarat region a third deployment to Tasmania would not be sent yet.