Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Echuca member leads strike team at Drik Drik

Echuca firefighter Simon O’Callaghan has returned from the Kentbruck fire near Portland which burnt some 11,000 hectares.

RUTH CLAYTON January 14, 2013 4:01am

Echuca CFA volunteer firefighter Simon O’Callaghan is back in Echuca after volunteering to help battle a large blaze at Drik Drik in south-western Victoria.

You wouldn’t think getting cold would be a problem when fighting fires.

But Echuca CFA volunteer Simon O’Callaghan, already hampered by a cold, could not help but notice the chilly night air last week at the scene of one of Victoria’s largest bushfires – the Drik Drik fires.

‘‘At night it gets cold; staying warm was the hardest issue,’’ he said.

Mr O’Callaghan can joke now, but his work was as serious as it comes for a CFA volunteer.

He was the strike team leader of a group of 28 fire fighters from District 20, the Loddon Mallee region, who travelled to the Kentbruck fire near Portland on Wednesday.

The group joined 229 other firefighters from around Victoria on Wednesday and 201 Thursday.

The crew from District 20 patrolled and monitored the backburns around the fire, which were undertaken to prevent the fire from spreading further.

They worked overnight shifts from 9pm to 7am.

Mr O’Callaghan said the fire burnt through 1200 hectares of pine plantation and a small amount of agricultural land and he felt relieved when the fire was brought under control.

With the backburns, the total size of the fire is 11,000 hectares.

‘‘At times you think you’re doing nothing and there’s a lot of standing around, but when you get to see the effectiveness of the burn and there are no outbreaks, it goes to show it was a good combined effort of the resources of the CFA and DSE (Department of Sustainability and Environment),’’ Mr O’Callaghan said.

This was the first time Mr O’Callaghan had been strike team leader.

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