“I was on both CFS and farm fire units. I have been in the CFS for 31 years.
I was bitten by a snake on November 22nd. I had the shakes during the fire but we had other things going on. I broke my wrists on day one of the fires. A bloke rolled out a firehose and took my legs out as I was running on to load the planes. I fell on the concrete pad and there is a lot of me to fall on a concrete pad. The concrete pad came off second best. Apart from that, a lot of stuff happened.
We lost our first property on day one, the 20th, and it was actually nearly two weeks before we stepped foot on that property. We thought if we could help someone else not go through what we went through, we were better of doing that.
In total, we lost about 130kms of fencing, 750 cows, 3500 sheep, 4000 acres of grass, couple of houses, sheds, shearing sheds, you name it; whatever was on the farm is gone.
We fought fires for like 45 days, now if you take one day out of that equation, we did an incredible job. On our best day, we saved 10 houses; on our worst day, we lost 100. But the one day, when even John Symens turned around and said, in his 60 years of chasing fires on Kangaroo island, he’s never lost a house but he’s never gone through a fire like that. It could have been a hell of a lot worse.
Every time we ever fought a fire, you get your lightning strike, no worries, it happens. The fire makes its run, the wind change comes from southwest which means the temperature goes down, humidity goes up, that is when you can actually attack the fire and have a good chance to put it out. Then this year, we had the lightning strike, it made its run, we had the wind change from hell, we had the perfect storm, humidity went down, temperature went up and everything that the book said would happen, was wrong. So, you’ll never learn more than by being with the people that live there. Never underestimate local knowledge. It’s gonna take a hell of a lot to beat. Mate, we nearly got half the island. You always learn.”