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Community to reflect on bushfires

Looking back: Morwell MP Russell Northe surveys the devastation caused by the Delburn Complex fires at Boolarra in 2009, with then police officer Gary Mills.

TEN years ago, the Mirboo North, Darlimurla, Boolarra and Yinnar communities were left shaken by the Delburn bushfires.

A week later, the Churchill fire on Black Saturday, renewed tensions within the Mirboo North community.

While the Mirboo North CFA is not commemorating the anniversary, the Country Fire Authority is holding a service to mark the anniversary of Black Saturday this Thursday, February 7, at the Federation University Auditorium in Churchill from 7pm to 9pm.

The Delburn fires started on January 28 and 29, 2009. While some were extinguished soon after ignition, three of the fires developed and became the Delburn Complex.

Six fires occurred: at the Delburn-Yinnar refuse transfer station, in a plantation at Ten Mile Creek Road at Delburn, at Brewsters Road at Yinnar, Ashfords Road north of Boolarra, Creamery Road fire east of Delburn and the Lyrebird Walk fire near Darlimurla.

The Ashfords Road and Creamery Road fires joined on January 29 and that fire joined with the Lyrebird Walk fire on January 30, eventually becoming a 6530ha fire with a perimeter of more than 70km.

The fires were contained on February 3, after destroying 30 homes and forest plantations, and affecting the Grand Ridge Rail Trail.

Fortunately, no one died or was seriously injured.

All fires, apart from the Ashfords Road blaze, were determined to be suspicious. Charges were laid but The Star is not aware of anyone being convicted. Police said no recent arrests or charges have been laid.

Morwell MP Russell Northe said of the Delburn complex of fires, “Whilst the fires had started a couple of days earlier, conditions were pretty horrible on the 30th of January, 2009 and as the fires spread, towns, homes and lives were threatened.”

Mr Northe said upon reflection, the situation could have been far worse if it was not for the heroic efforts of the CFA, who saved many homes.

“We remember our local communities and families who were impacted by the Delburn complex of fires, and reflect on the togetherness, spirit and resilience that was on display during the long recovery process,” he said.

“The recovery work, effort and generosity by local community organisations, businesses, service groups, volunteers and Latrobe City Council staff was amazing and something that gives you a strong sense of pride.”

Mirboo North CFA did not wish to comment on the anniversary.

The CFA service will remember the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009 that claimed 173 lives and destroyed thousands of homes across the state.

CFA South East Region, in conjunction with District 27 brigades, will hold the reflection service this Thursday at Churchill.

The service will include:

  • a visual reflection of the events of 2009;
  • laying of wreaths, prayer and silent reflection;
  • an address by community members reflecting on their experiences of the Churchill Jeeralang Fire, the Delburn Complex Fire and the Bunyip Ridge Fire; and
  • light supper at the conclusion.

Trevor Owen, assistant chief officer with the CFA, said, “The service will provide an opportunity to quietly and respectfully reflect on your own experiences of Black Saturday in the company of other CFA and community members. 

“Ten years on, much has changed both for CFA and those communities that were affected by the fires. We must not forget Black Saturday. The lessons learned, the achievements, the loss and the grief.”

The service will commence at 7pm and go for about two hours. There is no cost to attend the service, but bookings are essential. 

Bookings can be made online at www.trybooking.com/BAIJI or visit the CFA Gippsland Facebook page. Support services will be available on the evening for those who wish to use them.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=27376

Posted by on Feb 5 2019. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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