Community spirit


Community spirit

As the massive blaze threatened the district, the community banded together.

At Bookham, about 29 kilometres west of Yass, 30 volunteers have been making sandwiches, slicing fruit and putting together meals for about 350 hungry and weary firefighters.

A call out on social media for donations saw boxes of biscuits, bread and fruit delivered and local children helped bake food for the firefighters.

Gail Butt from nearby Young has been coordinating the feeding of fire crews for 49 years.

“It’s so overwhelming the comradeship around this little area, around Yass and Bookham is just heartbreaking. They’re all there for each other, it’s just so beautiful, you can’t thank them enough,” she said.

She says this is one of the worst fires in years.

“You go out and give them a cuddle, they are very weary, they are very pooped and you give them a bit of watermelon and they have a wash and in half an hour or so they look a bit different men,” she said.

“It’s satisfaction to me to see how they come in and how they go back out.”

It’s so overwhelming the comradeship around this little area. They’re all there for each other, it’s just so beautiful.

Gail Butt

Requests for feed for livestock have also been answered after more than 14,000 hectares were burnt out and about 7,000 sheep were lost in the fire

Yass Valley Mayor Rowena Abbey says the support has been amazing.

“Generosity of people – donations of water, food, hay, there’s a lot of fodder donations going on and it’s not just from this community. There’s hay coming from all over New South Wales for the feeding of the livestock,” she said.

Ms Abbey’s own land has also been threatened by the blaze.

“You get as prepared as you can be and then you wait. You try to support other people who have been affected and hope that you don’t become one of them,” she said.

A total fire ban is in place in New South Wales today.

On the state’s coast conditions are expected to ease but some towns can still expect warm and gusty conditions.

Assistant Commissioner Rob Rogers says communities in the west should remain vigilant.

“[It will be] quite hot west of the divide, around the Dubbo, Mudgee areas and a fairly large band of area there, we’re expecting quite warm and gusty conditions, so the focus will probably shift to the inland,” he said.

Meanwhile the main highway through Tasmania’s bushfire-stricken south-east will re-open today, allowing more residents return to their devastated communities.

Authorities in the state have been keeping a close eye on a bushfire at Lake Repulse that has burnt more than 11,500 hectares.

In the state’s south-east crews will continue back-burning near a bushfire that has destroyed 24,000 hectares and 170 properties on the Tasman Peninsula.

In Victoria, cooler conditions are allowing firefighters to extinguish hotspots from fires that have been contained in the past few days.

In Central Australia, Bushfires NT has begun relieving firefighters as the threat to property fades.

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