My internet is still down. I reported the problem to Telstra who went through a long list of checks before acknowledging a problem and they advised it should be rectified within 3 to 5 days. After seven days I phoned Telstra again and they claimed to have no knowledge of my prior report. It was only after telling the operator that not only had I reported the problem but they had given me extra phone data while the net was down. The operator found the extra data but no log of the previous complaint. So a new report is supposed to have been logged and again I have been told it will be another 3 to 5 days.
The 23rd was another sleepless night as Bodalla came under attack by fire again from the north under strong north west winds. The fire skirted the northern edge of the town and raced toward the coast, but is now travelling slowly south. There was unfortunately another fatality as a Bodalla man was killed defending his property. To the north of Bodalla in Moruya over 30 homes were lost at the western edge of the town and the fire was only contained just short of the hospital. The fire looks like attacking Bodalla again on 1/2/20 when temperatures are predicted to reach 38c and a NE wind may turn the fire into the unburnt section of forest to the SE of my property. Any southerly wind will then pose a threat. The only good thing is that many of the fires are under control elsewhere so there will be extra fire fighters brought into the area. We have had a little rain however Bodalla has only received a minimal amount that has had no impact on the fires. This last couple of months has been a nightmare.
There has been a press release of an enquiry into the fires. Hopefully a lot of the mishandling will come out. There are several fire authorities here in NSW. There is the Rural Fire Service which is an organisation of Volunteer fire fighters directed by burocrats in Sydney (who think they know more about fires than local brigade captains many of whom have extensive field experience and local fire behaviour knowledge which is ignored by the burocrats. Then we have the NSW Fire Brigade which is staffed in Sydney by full time fire fighters but in regional areas the fire fighters are on a retainer and are at call. Next we have State Forests who have their own fire fighting staff for fighting fires within State Forests and finally there is the National Sparks and Wildfires service (National Parks and Wildlife Service) who are responsible for fires in our extensive National Parks. The responsibility for individual fires can be nominated onto any of the above.
The current fire fighting efforts seem to have largley ignored the best fire fighting weapon, the bulldozer. The greenie influence is such that most of the fire fighting organisations would rather see hundreds of thousands of hectares burnt than to put in large clearings with the dozer. Imagine destroying 1000 Ha of forest with a dozer to stop a fire. While some dozer clearings have been put in, they have been ineffective as they have not been adequate in width for the severe conditions that have been experienced.
So the standard fire fighting technique is to put in a backburn in front of the advancing fire. Unfortunately a large percentage of those backburns create more problems than they solve. I watched a backburn put in north of Milton on the Princes hwy. The authorities restricted the burn on that occasion to the road reserve, however most of the farm fencing adjoining the road was destroyed and power was lost in the area as numerous power poles toppled, being burnt out at the base.
The greatest property loss within the Shoalhaven was the Conjola and Conjola Park fire in which 2 people were killed and hundreds of homes were lost. I have subsequently found out that the fire was as result of a backburn. The National Sparks and Wildfires Association proposed a backburn west of Conjola to form a fire break to protect some of the National Park. That backburn was proposed the day before catastrophic fire conditions (temperatures of over 40c with strong west winds) were forecast. In attendance also was the NSW Fire Brigade. The NSW Fire Brigade however warned against the backburn and said they would have nothing to do with assisting, then left the site. The NPWS then commenced a backburn over a huge front which soon got out of control, and the following day destroyed most of the lakeside village of Conjola Park.
I guess there will be a lot more property loss before we receive enough rain to extinguish the fires and then we will see terms of reference for the enquiry. The enquiry will probably take around 2 years after which everyone will have lost interest. The culprits for the mishandling of the fires will be rewarded with more office staff to better manage future fires and the hard working volunteers who fight the fires on the ground will receive a worthy pat on the back but are unlikely to receive the assistance that they actually need. “Yes Minister” is certainly reality in this country, or am I too cynical.
With regard to the post by Vincent regarding the Red Cross, I would also advise against ever donating to the Red Cross as they have a bad reputation for not sending the money to the cause that it was donated for. About 20 years ago many Australians were killed or injured by a bombing in Bali. The Red Cross launched a campaign for the Bali Victims and I made a substantial donation. From memory only around 10% of donations reached the victims. I will never donate to the Red Cross again. There are many other more worthwhile charities. The Salvation Army is very active locally and has been providing numerous supermarket food vouchers and other help to victims.