Pappinbarra fires: Firefighters went above and beyond the call of duty

Shocking: The scenes in Pappinbarra a day after fire ripped through the forest. Photo: Matt Attard
Shocking: The scenes in Pappinbarra a day after fire ripped through the forest. Photo: Matt Attard

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RURAL Fire Service Superintendent Kam Baker said he is shocked more properties were not lost in the Pappinbarra bushfires.

Supt Baker declared that the main objective was to protect life, and that everyone involved went above and beyond to ensure that was the case.

“Rural Fire Service volunteers, Forestry Corporation Fire Fighters, National Parks and Fire and Rescue NSW all deserve a massive thank you,” he said.

“The incident management team based in Wauchope also did a fantastic job. Our main objective was to protect life and I think everyone involved has gone above and beyond.”

Investigations are ongoing and Supt Baker said it can take two to three weeks to determine a cause.

The NSW RFS has completed an initial assessment of all areas affected by bush fires at the weekend. In Pappinbarra six homes were destroyed, three were damaged and 11 outbuildings destroyed.

A total of 32 homes have been confirmed destroyed across the state due to the catastrophic conditions on the weekend.

There were two RFS fire fighters that were taken to hospital for minor smoke and heat related injuries, and were released the same day.

“Community awareness that the fire is now at advice level, meaning it has come down a level, is important,” Supt Baker said. 

“In total, 1200 hectares in Pappinbarra has been burned. It was a one in five year weather event and we have never had these levels before.

“On behalf of the firefighters and the community the response could not have been better. I was expecting to lose a lot more homes.”

Supt Baker praised the community for following directions and warnings, and acting on their bushfire survival plans.

“It shows that the messages being delivered in terms of bushfire safety seems to be getting through to people,” he said.

In Nabiac, a 32-year-old man, believed to be a former volunteer firefighter, was charged on Sunday (February 12) with two counts of intentionally causing fire and being reckless as to its spread on Dargavilles Road. He was refused bail.

He is due to appear in Taree Local Court on Monday, February 13. The man was one of three people charged with lighting bushfires across NSW during the weekend heatwave.