Fire crew answers call for help

PAYBACK was the reason why 18-year-old Josh Pedley volunteered to fight some of the biggest fires South Australia has seen in years.

He was among eight firefighters from Orange and Cowra who flew to Renmark in South Australia  on Saturday for a five-day deployment.

The North West Brigade member has been a volunteer for four years and said there was a serious reason behind his decision to help.

“I was at the Winmalee fires during October [2013] with the CFA [Country Fire Service] and they came up to assist us so this is pretty much returning the favour,” he said.

Josh was speaking prior to his first 12-hour shift and admitted he was a little nervous at the prospect of facing the fire.

“It’s hot and pretty dangerous conditions by the sounds of it, but we do what we can for the community”.

“I’m a little nervous, but it gets on top of you and you think, this is what you joined the service for.”

Clifton Grove/Ophir Rural Fire Brigade member Cheryl Kinghorn was on the same flight and has only been a volunteer firefighter for 12 months.

“I’m a little bit nervous about it being such a big fire,” she said as she arrived in the small rural town of Renmark, 209 kilometres north-east of Adelaide.

When Miss Kinghorn and her seven fellow volunteers arrived on Saturday the Country Fire Service was battling 59 fires across the state.

“It should be interesting over here helping out. There’s a few here with a lot of experience,” she said.

Miss Kinghorn’s mother Deidre Kinghorn was among the well-wishers at Orange Airport on Saturday morning.

“I know she’s confident and she has a good crew with her but it’s just the thought that the fire is so vicious,” she said.

“My biggest fear is her getting trapped in a fire situation like they were out at Mullion [Creek fire in December].

“I was very proud of her when she got her first call out.

“She’s coping and she loves it, they’re good people and a good crew."

nadine.morton@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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