Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Tales of loss hit hard

The Strike Force 2007 returned from fighting fires on Wednesday night.

ELAINE COONEY February 18, 2014 1:40pm

Rochester CFA firefighters Kyle Williams, Colin Harris, Ray Liddicoat and Chris Roberts returned from the Numurkah fire on Wednesday night.

The Strike Force 2007 returned from fighting fires on Wednesday night.

Bamawm Extension fire captain George Calleja said it was harder to do the job of blacking out than fighting blazes in the Kilmore area days before.

He encountered many people who lost homes, sheds and livestock.

‘‘It was pretty hard when people broke down... There was a lot of sorrow,’’ he said.

‘‘It was hard to sit and listen because there was not a lot you could say or do.’’

Mr Calleja met a woman who had lost her father’s belongings which were of great sentimental value.

He saw the best side of human nature when a fellow volunteer offered hay and agistment to a woman who was concerned for her animals’ welfare.

‘‘We were on private homes so most of the people came up to us and were very grateful,’’ he said.

He had to cut down some burning trees and he saw people panicking when the leaves caught fire, thinking the fire was back.

Mr Calleja spend much time convincing people they were safe and that the fear of the southerly wind moving the fire to unburnt ground was no longer a threat due to the work firefighters carried out throughout the day.

Rochester brigade member Kyle Williams managed the Rochester members.

It was his first time leading a strike team crew.

‘‘We didn’t really know the area or what to expect,’’ he said.

He said the team arrived at 8.30am and focused on the western side of the Wunghnu fires.

Mr Williams said the team faced hot, dusty conditions.

When the team returned to Rochester that evening he said everyone was tired.

‘‘I was happy we got to fly the flag for Rochester in our new truck,’’ he said.

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