The Country Fire Service (CFS) has experienced an extremely busy fire season this year on the back of what has been an eventful few years for staff and volunteers.
While the fire season has already ended in the Upper South East it will finish in the Lower South East this week on April 30.
CFS Limestone Coast regional commander John Probert said there had not been many severe and catastrophic fire days issued, with most large fires occurring on days that were not classified as total fire bans.
Mr Probert said the worst fire in the region was the Coles fire with the Lucindale area being “smashed” with fires this year.
He said the causes of fire varied from lightning strikes to accidental ignitions as experienced in the Glenburnie area.
Mr Probert praised the preparation by residents which minimised the amount of property lost in the Glenburnie fire.
“That fire had a vast potential and while any fire is traumatic, the preparation undertaken by the community, in conjunction with fire crews, saved their houses,” he said.
“It is a combination of work from volunteer firefighters and residents preparing their homes which keeps the community safe in the event of a fire.
“The CFS staff have been working extremely long hours but most importantly our volunteers have been working under less-than-ideal circumstances, spending enormous hours on the fire grounds this year.
“It is a testament to our CFS volunteers because they put themselves in danger for the sake of the broader community and they certainly deserve praise for the fantastic work they have achieved.”
Compton CFS volunteer Wayne Richardson said his position was rewarding because he was able to help the community and work with a great bunch of people.
“It was another big year for us. We have 24 volunteers at Compton and all of them got a turn fighting fires this year,” he said.
“Despite it drawing to the end of the fire season the community should still remain vigilant.
“Once the fire season ends we see a lot of house fires, so we urge residents to clean out their chimneys and indoor barbecues.”
The aerial fire bombers based at Mount Gambier’s airport were also kept busy throughout the season experiencing one of their biggest years to date.
They tended to 51 incidents in the Lower South East with more than 70 hours of flying time and close to 400 drops totalling almost 900,000 litres of water.
The bombers assisted in Mount Gambier’s Crater Lakes fire and traversed the border to help in the Wrattonbully fire that burnt 7000 hectares.