Firies brave Victoria again

SAYING goodbye to their wives, children and the comforts of home for the second time in two weeks, yesterday these five men were bracing themselves for the treacherous fire conditions waiting for them in Victoria.

Neil Thompson, Josh Carr, Brenden Carr, Nick Clark and Scott Campbell are five of 24 Clarence Valley Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteer fire-fighters who have left their jobs and loved ones this week to battle the flames in Healesville, east of Melbourne.

Clarence Valley RFS support staff are also in Victoria, helping with logistics, planning and administration, bringing the total Clarence Valley contingent to nearly 30.

Neil Thompson did not think twice about heading back to the fire-ravaged State after already serving a five-day stint in Healesville.

“It's indescribable, the damage and amount of infrastructure lost,” he said. “It's 10 times worse than what you see on TV.”

Neil said last time they were confronted with images of billowing smoke and fire as soon as they flew into Melbourne.

“It's just horrific,” he said.

Still, despite working on the frontline, yesterday none of the men wanted to be called heroes.

“We're just doing our job,” he said. Fellow fire-fighter Scott Campbell said he was 'blown away' by the level of community appreciation in Healesville.

“People walk out of the shops and clap as you go past,” he said. For Scott, the unsung heroes are thepartners of fire-fighters, who are left to hold the household together when their spouses leave for five-days.

“They need recognition for what they're going through and the extra work load,” he said.

With fire conditions worsening this week, fire-fighters will have their work cut out for them, but Scott said RFS volunteers were well looked after and had ambulance crews on every job.

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