THE old saying goes: if you can’t handle the heat, get out of the fire.
Fortunately for the rest of us, there’s members of the Orange community who show their heroic nature when the temperature – and pressure – is at its fiercest.
On the weekend there were plenty of examples of that.
Early on Saturday afternoon most Orange residents’ thoughts were on locating the ‘on’ switches to their airconditioners and fans as the mercury climbed beyond 40 degrees for the first time in the recorded history of the city’s weather.
Soon though, their eyes were looking skywards as a plume of menacing black smoke rose and gathered over the northern end of William Street.
While the rest of us were frantically scouring social media or contacting friends and family in search of information Orange crews from both NSW Fire and Rescue and the Rural Fire Service were donning their protective gear and hurrying to the scene.
What they found when they arrived was more than 100 used cars either alight or waiting to ignite, with periodic ‘ker-booms’ signalling another oil-laced engine had added its fuel to the fire.
It’s a scene most of us would run from, but these brave men and women – some of them volunteers – steeled themselves and, using reserves of experience and courage, salvaged more than anyone could have expected from a nightmare situation.
But, to paraphrase another saying, not all heroes wear uniforms, and there were plenty of ordinary citizens who helped, in ways both small and big, on Saturday afternoon.
Staff and volunteers of the adjacent RSPCA were quick to act to save the facility’s animals, darting into the building empty handed and re-emerging with arms full of scared and bewildered creatures. Heroes.
They were helped by a small but willing army of the city’s animal lovers who placed the safety of the cats, dogs and birds above their own as the fire threatened to raze the kennels and cages. More heroes.
As the RSPCA awaits the green light to re-accommodate the animals they are being housed in numerous residences across Orange. Unsung heroes.
There were reports of selfless people taking it upon themselves to deliver cool water to those fighting the fire. Again, heroes.
It may have been a black weekend for the city, but the response showed we have no shortage of heroes.