Volunteers shocked by fires
by NEELIMA CHOAHAN
AT just 20, Roslyn Wright is a seasoned firefighter. But the girl from Cudgen could not believe her eyes as a raging inferno wreaked havoc in Coonabarabran in western NSW. Having just returned from a stint battling the blaze, she knows all to well the dangers this time of the year brings.
THE devastation was like nothing Roslyn Wright had seen before.
A seasoned firefighter at 20 with the Cudgen rural brigade, she was nonetheless shocked at the havoc caused by the inferno raging in the township of Coonabara-bran in western NSW.
"There was smoke everywhere," Ms Wright said.
"You drove along the highway and everything was black or brown, there was no green.
"Nothing compared to the size of the fire."
Ms Wright, who has been a voluntary firefighter for the past two years, said there were times when she felt nervous during her four-day fire-fighting assignment earlier this month.
"Every now and then I would get hot from the flame and thought 'I better step back'," she said.
"The heat makes you feel like you are getting sunburnt."
Her courage has impressed partner Alex Marrison to volunteer for the fire service.
"I am very proud of her," Mr Marrison said.
Ms Wright is just one of the 150 volunteers from the NSW Rural fire service far north coast battling fires in the western NSW region.
The fire, started by a lightning strike in the Piligra National Park nearly two months ago, has drawn firefighters from all over Australia. They have worked tirelessly putting in containment lines, lighting backburns, and fighting the bushfire front.
The hard work paid off as the fire in that area has been contained.
NSW RFS far north coast group captain east Mark Eglington said he was astounded at the selflessness of the volunteers.
"I am always amazed at how many people are willing to give up their own time," Cpt Eglington said.
"For five days they are away from family, friends and work, putting their own lives at risk.
"And all for just helping someone in need."
Cpt Eglington, who was also in Coonabarabran, said it was a very demanding job.
"It is very tiring work. Sometimes you'd only get four or five hours sleep."
There are 350 active firefighters in the NSW Rural Fire Service Far North Coast who come from the Tweed, Byron and Ballina shires.
For information on volunteering in the RFS Far North Coast call 02 6672 7888.