Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Bare Foot Fire Fighter

Yesterday was a big adventure!

I left Littletree at home with Purple and went off with Mark to scout for the Rainbow Gathering on the other side of the Border Ranges National Park. On the way, we drove past a property belonging to a friend of Mark, but we weren't going to stop; we wanted to get some scouting done.

Only when we drove past, there was smoke billowing up from the middle of the property; a big fire burning. Mark suggested we stop in at the house, and make sure the owners knew about it and it was under control.

Turned out they did know about it, but it was out of control; they had just called the Fire Depertment. We went over to have a look, and found the fire spreading fast, threatening a house and a yard full of chickens. No one seemed to really know what to do, and they were all just standing around. I asked if there was water in the rainwater tank, or a hose, or buckets...
Blank stares, but Mark and I went down to where the fire was licking towards the dry lantana brush behind the chicken's enclosure.

We managed to get a hose running, but it wasnt long enough. There was an Austrian WWOOFER there and she found some buckets. Armed with a bucket of water, I crashed into the lantana and threw the water into the flames, and went back for more.
We started a bucket line, the wwoofer filling the buckets and Mark carrying them down and me dragging them in to the fire.

We got that bit stopped fairly quickly, and the owner of the land was confident that it wouldnt go any further, as there was a creek at the bottom of the field that would stop it. Only it didn't.
The fire jumped the creek and raced up into the other field. Mark and I scrambled over with the buckets and I filled them in the creek, ran up the steep embankment to give him the buckets and he went to throw water on the fire.

The smoke was intense, and Mark soon needed a break, so I swapped with him.
At this point, I should mention that I didnt have any shoes with me, so I was running through a smoking field of burning grasses barefoot!

A couple of other guys who live on the property, and a neighbour came to help, but the fire spread up into the the next paddok (field). We chased it, but by then it was too far to bother hauling water from the creek. One man cut a bunch of branches from a green tree, and we beat at the flames with those.

It was really effective; smothering the flames, but HARD work. And of course, the paddok was all dry grass and thorns and prickles, thrashing my poor, already burned feet :(
Anyway, we stopped the fire on one side of the paddok, but it raced up the hill on the other side, and into a neighbour's property. We chased it, keeping it at bay...

Around that time the fire department arrived, first a helicopter that circled around, and then a few fire trucks. The first truck came up to where we were fighting the fire, but it got bogged up to its axles in a ditch! So then they had to get the tractor to tow it out.

By that time I couldn't walk so comfortably, and that side of the fire was pretty under control, but I could see up the hill on the other side of the valley it was getting bigger. So I headed back down over the creek and up the other side. I stopped at the house to drink some water (thirsty work!) and spied some gumboots lined up inside. So, duly gumbooted, I trudged up to the other side draggin my blackened branch. The people over there were getting to the point of deciding to stop chasing the fire; we had stopped it on 3 sides, and the fire department had arrived, and it seemed like it was just burning dry grass that wasn't worth saving.

Everyone went inside for tea, and I got some Aloe Vera to put on my foot.
Mark and I left to continue on our scouting mission. The local TV news crew arrived as we were leaving, so I dont know what happened.

We continued over the mountain and checked out the rainbow site. It was a magical place, perfect for a gathering, but the owners we're really not into the idea :(

Exhausted, and with the sun setting, we headed for home, the valley was still full of smoke when we drove past where the fire had been burning, and people in the general store were gossiping about the fire.

So now, I can officially call myself a Bare Foot Fire Fighter!
(and I have the blisters to prove it!)

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations, Officer Faerie! I hereby award you this honorary gumnut stick pin, and plastic non-safety-rated novelty yellow firefighting helmet (think: Village People)
    You've done our nation proud. It's a fine moment for our country. To you, we owe our lives, our sheep and our lantana. And the odd scorpion. But hands off Bessy y'hear?

    Prostrated, and teary eyed - today our broad, brazen country lies still. In honour. In tribute.
    God bless this Faeire. The fire fighting faerie.
    Offically yours, signed, Deputy Anson


Thanks for your lovely words, witty banter and entertaining discussion :)