Fire on the Hills
As I was walking the dogs along a raised bank above the Taylor River I happened to look back and over towards the Wither Hills. I saw smoke rising in an area of the Wither Hills Farm Park. It did not look like an ordinary controlled “Burn off’. As I watched the fire grew larger. By then the big fire siren was sounding in town and the sirens of fire engines were growing. I phoned the farm manager and left a message on his phone. I had a camera with me that has a 30x optical zoom…very handy for a series of photos. My iPhone was at hand as well for capturing even more images.
Once I returned to our vehicle I phoned Ricky W, a keen photographer friend and Blipper. Sure enough he was on the flat ground on the roads near the Farm Park with camera and lenses. I drove there to meet up with him. Half the town it seemed was out watching the action. Three helicopters were working away with monsoon buckets swinging below them. I suspect that the water was being taken from the lake at the Taylor Dam. Luckily the wind was coming from the south-east quarter and thus the fire was confined to a valley containing a plantation of pine and eucalypts. The fire crews could do little but watch the helicopters in action and be ready to protect housing along Taylor Pass Road on the boundary of the Farm Park. I caught up with police, the farm manager and council staff members at the foot of the valley.
Rumour has it that a woman spotted two young lads hurriedly walking away from some undergrowth in a spot up by the Rotary Lookout. She spotted the smoke rising, collared the boys and frog-marched them down the hill and handed them over to the police. Other mountain bikers and walkers had called in the fire to the police and fire brigade.
We are so lucky the hills are relatively “green “at present and not tinder dry as they would have been into the summer.
I feel very very sorry about this fire. Having served on the Council for almost a generation I have had an enormous amount of interest (and indeed work) in the development of our Wither Hills Farm Park and I feel very protective of it. It is a wonderful asset for our district and enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of locals and visitors every year.