SPECIALIST: National Parks and Wildlife Service field officer Dean Egan, from Grafton, and Robert Madden from the Rural Fire Service out in the field in Tasmania.
SPECIALIST: National Parks and Wildlife Service field officer Dean Egan, from Grafton, and Robert Madden from the Rural Fire Service out in the field in Tasmania. OEH

Clarence Valley firefighters return from burnt rainforests

A SELECTION of National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) remote area firefighters, including two from the Clarence Valley, have made a safe return from their deployment in Tasmania's "challenging terrain".

The NPWS fire staff, who are at the highest level of fitness required for a Remote Area Fire Team, were deployed to Tasmanian fire grounds in the Lake Mackenzie and Stanley areas.

On his return, Grafton-based NPWS project officer Dean Egan described tree ferns 14 feet high, fungi the size of four dinner plates and huge Myrtle trees with undercut roots big enough that you could walk through with your arms out.

"Everywhere I went I kept thinking it was like the movie 'Fern Gully', but instead everything was burning," Mr Egan said.

"On day four our helicopter extraction flew past the Walls of Jerusalem.

"Flying alongside such an epic geological formation, over mountain plateau swamps and then descending into the dairy country valley staging area was quite a strange experience after several days of working in an all-burnt site."

Mr Egan said the operation was a multi-agency response, with NPWS firefighters working alongside the Tasmania Fire Service, Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service, ACT Rural Fire Service, and the NSW Rurual Fire Service.

"It was interesting to see different fire tools and techniques required for steep peat and big tree fires," he said.

Close to 220 NPWS firefighters from NSW have helped their Tasmanian colleagues fight a series of serious bushfires burning in remote areas of the southern-most state.

More than 100,000 hectares have now been burnt.

NPWS deputy chief executive Michael Wright said NPWS firefighters were recognised as some of the best and have provided similar assistance throughout Australia as well as North America.

The national response is being coordinated by Emergency Management Victoria and also includes Victoria, NSW, ACT, SA, QLD and New Zealand resources committed.



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