VOLUNTEERS are in abundance throughout Lithgow as the State Mine fire continues to burn.
At least seven community service groups from Lithgow and many individuals have banded together to accommodate Rural Fire Service (RFS) units, NSW Fire and Rescue and police.
The State Emergency Service (SES) has partnered up with the RFS, a sight not uncommon in circumstances such as this, and is involved with evacuation procedures.
The Lithgow VRA group is working with police and are on standby 24/7 for any situation that may eventuate and groups such as the Lions Club, Rapid Response Team (RRT), the Salvation Army, Red Cross, Lithgow City Council and numerous others are all doing their bit to aid this huge operation.
At RFS headquarters in Silcock Street, Doreen Peters and Pam Day, along with many from the community, have been keeping the fire crews fed morning, noon and night since Wednesday last week.
“We have had so much help from other volunteers,” Doreen said.
“People from the public are just coming in and offering their services.”
When Eleanor Hajwan-Jones took over the lease at Monkey Creek Cafe at Dargan eight weeks ago little did she know that she would be serving up coffee to worn out RFS crews from around NSW.
Eleanor was told late last week that the Bells Line of Road would be closing and all residents needed to get ready to evacuate.
With the help of her husband and family they loaded up all they could and left.
On Saturday Eleanor was allowed to return to her business and has been there from seven o'clock in the morning until the last fire truck leaves around 7pm handing out coffees and anything else the firies would like.
“It is not something I expected,” Eleanor said.
“I am just happy to help, if these guys who are saving property and lives need a cup of coffee then I am more than happy to give it to them.
“With all the great work they have done it is the least I can do.”
Lithgow Superintendent Greg Wardle cannot praise the volunteers enough.
“Staff and volunteers, of not just the RFS, but the whole State Mine Fire operation have gone over and above their line of duty,” Mr Wardle said.
At the showground RFS camp, the RRT members have been working flat out to ensure the comfort of those fighting the fire are met.
Some staying at the showground have said it is more like a motel with fresh made beds every day and beautiful meals served.
There are many stories of random acts of kindness - the Lions ladies work alongside the Vale ladies every afternoon at the Workmens Club making sandwiches to be distributed by the RRT, Red Cross members help at the evacuation centre, bulldozer drivers offer their machinery and assistance, and the list goes on.
"I have never been prouder to call this place home,” Lithgow mayor Maree Statham summed up.