One Billys Creek property owner says local RFS firefighters are: ‘the biggest heroes of this whole horror story’.
One Billys Creek property owner says local RFS firefighters are: ‘the biggest heroes of this whole horror story’.

Dry lightning a concern for ‘walking ghosts’ fighting fires

RAIN has fallen but lightning strikes have caused new ignition points on the western side of the massive Bees Nest fire northwest of Dorrigo, according to one man who has been battling the blaze on his property for weeks now.

The NSW RFS is also reporting on its Fires Near Me page that storm cells moved across the fireground yesterday afternoon: 'Lightning strikes were detected across the area and a number of new fires have been reported.' 

Mark Graham owns several conservation blocks in the region including a 1,000 acre property at Billys Creek which has been largely destroyed. He has lost 80 per cent of the high conservation value block, and his cabin.

 

Tyringham RFS volunteers have been praised as heroes.
Tyringham RFS volunteers have been praised as heroes.

"About two Mondays ago it really took off. There was a 12 to 15 metre high fire front moving at 70km an hour that just ripped through."

Five years ago his father passed away and he used his inheritance to buy bush blocks for conservation purposes.

"At the moment there's probably been about nine homes lost - it's a miracle there hasn't been more properties lost or people hurt, and that's because of the local Tyringham volunteer firefighters," Mark said.

 

HEROES: Darren Wykes from the Tyringham Rural Fire Service.
HEROES: Darren Wykes from the Tyringham Rural Fire Service.

"They are some of the biggest heroes of this whole horror story. If it wasn't for them it would have been a human catastrophe of much greater order."

He says they have been working around the clock.

"They are beyond tired. They've barely slept in ten or 12 days. Some of them are like walking ghosts."

But on a broader scale he says the emergency response system has been overwhelmed by the scale of the fire which has currently burnt out 94,000 hectares.

"The bigger picture is that the government emergency response systems have failed. They've been overwhelmed. People were told to call triple-0 and this reverted to the Tyringham RFS."

 

Mark Graham, pictured at the 'Biodiversity Embassy' in the Kalang Headwaters last month.
Mark Graham, pictured at the 'Biodiversity Embassy' in the Kalang Headwaters last month.

For now Mark is keeping a close eye on the situation and trying to catch up on sleep.

"I got some sleep last night so I feel OK. Only yesterday we felt like we had the fire boxed in. We've been raking and breaking up burning logs.

"We got some rain but it's still burning and it's very dry so it could pick up again at any time."



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