MID Coast RFS Superintendent Kam Baker was in the thick of things when the Pappinbarra bush fires erupted out on February 12, 2017.
The tireless effort of his colleagues will remain with him forever, he says, as he reflects on the catastrophic event one year on.
“I suppose the thing I reflect on the most is the great work that was done on the day by all the firefighters on the ground,” he said.
“To save as many properties as they did…it’s still, in my eyes, a superhuman effort. I called it that at the time and I still feel that way now.”
He was equally inspired and touched by the community’s willingness to respond and work together.
“The way they actually responded and headed the warnings and the way the community got together and recovered,” Supt Baker said.
“Everyone put their differences aside to help each other, and that was pretty important.
“In my eyes, they’ve become a more resilient community. They reacted really well.
“They will be more aware of what a natural disaster in their area can do to them, and what they need to do to be prepared for that.”
He visited Pappinbarra a month ago and says he believes the area has recovered well.
“I saw normality starting to return to the valley - fences rebuilt, paddocks recovered, the stretches of bushland starting to recover and fixing properties,” he said.
“All those things show that nature, people and the willingness of others to help contribute to recovering and rebuilding are making a difference.
“Rural communities tend to do that, they band together to help each other.
“You can live in an urban area and look over the fence and not know your neighbour, but it’s different in a rural setting.”