Tenterfield Quarry Rd fire draws amazing community response

With everyone on tenterhooks, the sight of smoke on Scrub Road brought landholders running with their own firefighting equipment. Fortunately RFS airborne firefighters were also still in the district. Photo by Vicky Little.
With everyone on tenterhooks, the sight of smoke on Scrub Road brought landholders running with their own firefighting equipment. Fortunately RFS airborne firefighters were also still in the district. Photo by Vicky Little.

Tenterfield may be on high alert after more than a week of encroaching bushfires but still the community response to an outbreak on Quarry Road, just south of the township on Saturday afternoon, was unbelievable, Vicky Little said.

Mrs Little is the daughter of Jim Landers, whose Scrub Road property was in the path of the fire.

"People just came from everywhere," she said.

"There were hundreds of them, and a lot of young people. I don't even know who they were. I guess they just saw the smoke."

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Mr Landers said the blaze was sparked by power lines, with winds sweeping the fire across properties towards the New England Highway. He said if not extinguished so quickly the fire would have been across the highway and gone.

Although he lost a stretch of fencing and some pasture he was fortunate that the fire didn't damage the house although it did get into a shed nearby.

Essential Energy crews work on the powerlines on Quarry Road in the aftermath of the fire.

Essential Energy crews work on the powerlines on Quarry Road in the aftermath of the fire.

The area was besieged by local landholders with firefighting equipment, along with Tenterfield Fire and Emergency and the Rural Fire Services including helicopters and the big 737 plane dumping water. His dams were sucked dry, but Mr Landers said everyone did a good job to stop it.

"It was a real display of community spirit," he said.

Daniel Townes deserves special mention for driving a bulldozer 12 kilometres for the Townes depot to grade around the house and up the hill to provide a fire break, where the fire was stopped.

Mrs Little said she doesn't know where everyone came from but they battled the blaze on all fronts, not needing direction.

She said the speed of the fire was amazing, moving from the ignition point on Quarry Road to the house very quickly.

This is the view from the Landers farmhouse, with smoke so thick it's hard to see all the emergency vehicles just on the other side of the house yard fence. Photo by Vicky Little.

This is the view from the Landers farmhouse, with smoke so thick it's hard to see all the emergency vehicles just on the other side of the house yard fence. Photo by Vicky Little.

Neighbour Colin Keevers of Alumy Creek Angus lost his Prado to the fire after it got stuck in a contour bank with the weight of a ton of water on the back. He and partner Lisa Martin had approximately 70 per cent of their property burnt out, accounting for around 95 per cent of their remaining feed.

Ms Martin said they were lucky that the RFS airborne firefighting aircraft were still in the region to help extinguish the blaze.

"Otherwise it would have been on its way to Mt Mackenzie, or even to the Mole River," she said.

Ultimately 110 hectares was burnt in the fire, as it headed for the New England Highway and Mt Mackenzie (in the background) beyond.

Ultimately 110 hectares was burnt in the fire, as it headed for the New England Highway and Mt Mackenzie (in the background) beyond.

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