Mount Canobolas volunteers get on with the job | Photos

AS firefighters battle the blaze at Mount Canobolas, a separate band of volunteers have been making sure they’re fed. 

The rapid response team, made up of 15 volunteers from across the region, have been preparing 800 meals a day for personnel working on the fire.

The team, catering for both the Mount Canobolas and Belerada Creek fires, has been in place since Sunday. 

Team leader Roger Ovenden said hamburgers and bacon and egg rolls were among the menu options.

“And of course, plenty of water and plenty of refreshments,” he said. 

“It’s remarkable, the efforts of the Rural Fire Service (RFS), and we’re here to support them.”

Mr Ovenden said teams had been working anywhere from 5am through to midnight, with help from the CWA. 

Firefighters Chris Solomon, Rob Bragg, David Ward, John Sturgeon AFSM and Matt Livermore. 0213amfire7

Firefighters Chris Solomon, Rob Bragg, David Ward, John Sturgeon AFSM and Matt Livermore. 0213amfire7

Meanwhile, the 150 firefighters at the Canobolas fire have been working 12-hour shifts. 

Members of the Bowan Park and Lidster brigades acknowledged it had been hot and “pretty smoky”. 

“When you’re mopping up and flaming it out, it’s all hot work,” Lidster captain John Sturgeon said. 

“Everyone’s been really appreciative of what we do, I’ve never come across anyone who said they didn’t appreciate it, but it’s about the community coming together to help the community.”

While some crowning has occurred, Bowan Park firefighter David Ward expected more damage.

“I’m surprised how many leaves there were still on the trees,” he said. 

HELP FROM ABOVE: Pilot Ben Surawski has been helping out with the Mount Canobolas water-bombing effort. Photo: ANDREW MURRAY 0214amheli1

HELP FROM ABOVE: Pilot Ben Surawski has been helping out with the Mount Canobolas water-bombing effort. Photo: ANDREW MURRAY 0214amheli1

Ben Surawski has also been close to the firefighting efforts, but from above.

The pilot, who normally works for Eagle Helicopters in Orange, has been flying a squirrel helicopter as a command and control platform carrying RFS personnel, instructing other aircraft where to dump their water. 

“If the water bombers weren’t there, we would have lost six houses at least,” he said. 

Originally from Bathurst, Mr Surawski said children grew up never realising they could grow up to fly helicopters, but it was something they could aspire to.

“It’s flexible and I get to travel all around Australia, I’ve been to America three times, but I also get to help people,” he said. 

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