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Fire Campaigns

With the CFA being  reluctant to send a truck out of our area, (as we only had the one truck and a quick fill unit) we didn't get called to many of the fire campaigns.  We would only be assigned to local strike teams whereas we only left for a 12 to 24 hr period.   If our tanker left the area, another truck had to be found to sit at our station, quite often with relief crews from other brigades.  This was the case with the 1997 Dandenong Ranges fires.  Being a  vehicle assigned to the Maroondah Strike Team, we were called to assist with the Dandenong Ranges fires at Kalorama.  The truck left Toolangi with a crew of 5 at 11:00am and the relief crew was sent later in the evening so the first crew had a break.  The truck with the 2nd crew didn't return until 04:00am the following morning.  There were several fires started on the day, and unfortunately it appeared to be arson.  These fires killed three people and caused $6.5 million in property damage, with 42 homes destroyed and another 45 damaged.

There were other fire campaigns where our members were asked to assist, with or without our tanker.  One of these was the 2001 Black Christmas Fires in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney.  The fires started on Christmas day and was in a very steep forested location with difficult access.  These fires burned for a period of 3 weeks and Toolangi sent a number of strike team crews over this period.  These fires are the worse on record for NSW, fortunately there were no recorded deaths but they burned for 3 weeks destroying 109 houses with another 40 damaged and a large number of livestock.

One of the longest fire campaigns experienced by the CFA were the Victorian 2003 North East Fires.  Several fires were ignited by lightening on the 8/01/2003, in very steep inhospitable country.  As the area had experienced a prolonged drought, the undergrowth was very dry and these fires were able to spread very quickly.  These fires eventually joined to become a very large fire.  This fire burnt 1.3 million hectares over a period of 59 days with 41 homes destroyed and over 9,000 livestock killed. Thousands of kilometres of fencing were also destroyed.  The Toolangi tanker was sent to Mt Beauty with a crew and didn't return until the end of February.  Our crew along with most CFA volunteers at some stage were involved along with 160 Defence Force staff, over 300 interstate firefighters, 33 alpine firefighting specialists from New Zealand and 35 personnel from the United States. In total, 15,725 personnel were directly engaged in fighting these bushfires. Click here for a view of the 2003 NE Fires.

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