A charter plane flew out of the Orange Regional Airport on Saturday carrying a strike team of 18 volunteer firefighters who went to help battle blazes in north-east NSW.
The strike team included Rural Fire Service volunteers from the Cargo, Newbridge and Clifton Grove brigades.
Other RFS volunteers on the flight included members of four Mudgee brigades – Mudgee, Cook’s Gap, Cooyal and Lawson – as well as from Greenethorpe, Gulargambone, Ewenmar, Ungarie and Harden.
Team leader and Canobolas Zone district assistant Harold Rossiter said the firefighters were giving relief to RFS crews from the fire-affected region and would replace 26 Central West volunteers who left Orange on Tuesday and would take the return flight home.
Mr Rossiter said the relief strike team was expected to start work at the fire ground on Sunday morning but wouldn’t be briefed until it arrived.
“We’re not sure what we are going to find up there and what the weather is, whether it’s a washout or fighting fires, I think it will mostly be mopping up,” he said.
Among the fires the RFS firefighters could attend was the Kippenduff fire, 50 kilometres south-west of Casino.
It had burnt 3496 hectares by Saturday afternoon and was under control with crews strengthening containment lines, other fires in the region also burnt more than 3000 hectares each.
For Newbridge Rural Fire Service senior deputy David Lake, this is his first long-distance deployment.
However, with 16-years spent volunteering with the RFS he has plenty of experience.
“I’ve been up the Blue Mountains and Lithgow and a bit out west, but this is my first plane trip away,” Mr Lake said.
He said as well as helping other communities, the deployments are an opportunity to learn or enhance skills.
“I’ve got no idea what to expect, it is raining up there at the moment, that might well do the job for us, I don’t really know what the terrain is,” he said.
It will also be the first long-distant deployment for Dannika Short and the second for Dearne Philpott both from the Mudgee brigade.
Like Mr Lake, the women said they hoped to gain experience from the deployment.
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