Senior deputy of Lawrence Brigade Bob Neilson at the Carrs St, Yamba, fire on Saturday night.
Senior deputy of Lawrence Brigade Bob Neilson at the Carrs St, Yamba, fire on Saturday night.

Bob gives up 70th birthday celebration to battle blaze

BOB NEILSON was supposed to spend Saturday afternoon celebrating his 70th birthday with a sheep on a spit.

Instead the Lawrence Rural Fire Service Brigade senior deputy suited up to help extinguish bigger, more dangerous candles at Carrs Dr at Yamba.

Mr Neilson, who is also the permit officer and brigade president, said the birthday celebrations had to be put on hold.

"We were tasked out here this afternoon after setting up a party for me at my place which is now getting cold," Mr Neilson said.

"We had a sheep on a spit planned, but now my wife is probably looking out forlornly wondering what she's going to do with it."

Mr Neilson and his Lawrence crew travelled a total of about 800km on Friday battling blazes as far away as Ewingar.

They returned home about 3am on Saturday morning, and after a 12 hour break were sent back out to continue fighting fires.

The Clarence Valley was declared a section 44 on Saturday, allowing crews from other areas to help.

At Carrs Dr for instance, two Lawrence crews were joined by crews from Ballina and Coffs Harbour throughout the day and into the night.

Neilson stressed the importance of residents' compliance with the suspension of fire permits, with the official bushfire season brought forward to August 1.

"You rotate units in as you can get them to those most at risk places, but it was all at risk," he said.

"Even though the air's cold the wind still blows and the flames still go."



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