The Country Fire Service has praised the monumental response from water bombers at the Blackford fire with 101 drops in six hours to help bring the raging blaze under control.

Key points:

  • Water bombers completed 101 drops in six hours to bring a fire under control at Blackford
  • It takes volunteers on the ground three minutes to refill aircraft with 3,000 litres of water
  • The close proximity of Lucindale airstrip to the fire allowed quick a turnaround

CFS state aviation coordinator Nick Stanley said he was amazed by the incredibly efficient response by the six aircraft.

Putting it into context, he said it would normally require a much longer period for aviation crews to deposit a similar number of drops.

“This fire started after lunch so it was around six hours and that’s a very concentrated period of time to get 101 drops in,” Mr Stanley said.

He said the ground crews charged with refilling the aircraft worked tirelessly to help get aircraft back in the air as quickly as possible.

“When you have six aircraft come in, sometimes you have them lined up waiting to be reloaded and these aircraft only take up to three minutes to be reloaded with 3,000 litres of water,” he said.

“So it was an extremely busy day not only for the pilots of the fire-bombing aircraft but also for the ground crews who were loading the aircraft.”

The CFS deployed six water bombers to battle the grass fire burning towards Lucindale, in the south east.(Supplied: Hailey Brewster)

Mr Stanley said everyone involved in Monday’s response deserved the utmost praise for their efforts.

“Aviation firefighting resources are just one of the tools that we have in our toolbox when we get fires going,” he said.

“From the ground crews who load, to the pilots who are dropping and observing, to the people on the ground, not just CFS volunteers, but also the farm firefighting units, they are all an integral part of our operations. Without one we are not as effective as we could be.

Volunteers ‘running around’ to refill aircraft

Lucindale resident John Mclean was one of the volunteers who assisted in loading and refilling the aircraft.

He said the quick turnaround for the bombers was in part due to the fire being so close to the Lucindale airstrip.

“We loaded 41 earlier in the afternoon, and then we got stood down because of the smoke and the pilots couldn’t take off,” he said.

“We came back a few hours later and did 40 more refills.

In the middle of offering assistance, Mr McLean said he also had to deal with the threat the fire posed to his own property.

“I went home and I put tennis balls in my downpipes and filled my gutters with water,” he said.

“I live on the northern edge of the town… so yeah, if it had come from that way, I probably would have gone to the town hall instead.”

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