Saturday, December 31, 2011

Seeing out 2011 fire fighting.

Well I had lots of news from over the Christmas period but everything has been over shadowed by a fire on George Island.  Before I tell you our depressing news  I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year and a happy healthy 2012.  2011 has been a good year in general.  Tiphanie passed her Masters Degree, Shaun and Tanya moved out to Speedwell Island.  Wool prices are high, lamb prices keep improving. Shaun got 4th place in the intermediate shearing competition and his team got first in the team shear and Christopher got third in the farm shear on the 29th December.  It was a brilliant competition, the two top shearers and two top rousies will now go to New Zealand in February to represent the Falklands at the Golden shears competition.
Now for our depressing end to 2011.  Yesterday we got a call from the Falkland Islands Government Air Service enquiring if there was anyone on George Island as one of the pilots had seen smoke coming from the island.  We were still in Stanley as we had planned to come out today but we were going to Speedwell instead of George.  FIGAS are a truly brilliant service and on finding out that we were not on the island they came and flew over the island to see what was on fire.  Happily it was not the house or any of the buildings.  It is a grass/diddle dee fire in the Ram Paddock.  The fire is approximately 5,000 square metres.  We have no idea how it started we don't think anyone has been on the island but we cant be sure, sometimes we have yachties on the island that don't have permission to land.  We think this is probably from a lightening strike, lightening hit Speedwell telephone system just before Christmas (the second time in a month) it is quite likely that it has been a lightening strike here.  So yesterday afternoon everything went into overdrive.  FIGAS yet again pulled out all the stops and Christopher and Shaun along with some fire fighting equipment were able to get onto the island.  They got back to George at about 5pm and immediately started fire fighting.  Although they had a pump loaned to them from the fire department they did not have long enough hoses so were only able to do some work digging ditches to try and fight the fire and using buckets of water but it is a bit like pissing in the wind.  Today Tanya and I flew out.  We got here around 10am and went straight out to the fire.  We also received more hose on the plane and we were actually able to start going around the edge of the fire.  There is no possibility of putting the whole fire out so the plan is to try and stop the spread.  We spent two hours working on the top line of fire digging out hot spots on the edge and blowing the edges out with the force of water.  Christopher flew back out on the plane that Tanya and I flew in on and went to North Arm.  We have been very lucky that the Fire brigade were also able to supply us with another pump, more hoses and also two volunteer firemen.  The firemen drove out to North Arm with the extra equipment and then Christopher and the firemen drove down to Flores Harbour and came down to George on Theo. We all went out to the fire again at about 4pm and stayed out until 8pm.  We have made some progress in stopping it and some of it has went out by itself.  We are really fortunate tonight because there is no wind. I guess there is always a bright side, the fire is very slow moving, it is in the ram paddock which only gets used for very short periods and currently has no stock in it.  It has dripped with rain for about 15 minutes.  Hopefully we can contain it.  It is quite sad that some of the Jackass penguins have perished in the fire.  They currently have chicks and I guess they couldn't get away from it.  We will see what tomorrow brings but I know what we will all be doing New Years Day.
Anyway we are going to stay up and have a couple of drinks and see the New Year in.  There is nothing we can do out at the fire tonight so Happy New Year everyone.

1 comment:

  1. Never a dull moment. I am sorry you found your R and R interrupted by the fire. I have been reading about the fires in Southern Chile and wondered if you had got any of the weather that started them with lightening strikes. I really did not expect you would have a fire. I thought in terms of stormy weather.

    I have fought grass fires here, usually ones I started to burn off old grass on the fields which got away from me. Over a period of years I burned down a cabin on the property, the old outhouse behind my house, had to call out the volunteer fire company when a fire was getting in the bush and finally I started a bush fire that fan to the top of the rock outcropping at the back of my property and by the next morning it has travelled about 1/4 of mile along the ridge before the fire company came and put out the last of it. No one came and said anything to me mercifully but after that I decided not to burn off any more grass, even though the shot of nutrient from the fire made the new grass such a lovely green colour.

    Firefighting here in the Northern Forest is big business. The crown land, which is most of it, is the government's responsibility. Most fires are caused by lightening. I had a small one start just off my place and a water bombing aircraft came and put most of it out followed by a small crew of three firefighters who came and camped by it for two days to make sure it was out.

    A water bomber aircraft might be a good investment for the Falklands. I am not sure there are places of calm water that such a plane could scoop up water to fill its tanks. We have millions of lakes here and endless freshwater.

    I am glad your losses were not greater and you were notified of it early on.

    All the best in the New Year.