BlazeAid rolls on with fire recovery

BlazeAid rolls on with fire recovery

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Across SA, more than 1050 kilometres of fencing has been rebuilt by BlazeAid volunteers in the wake of the summer bushfires, and while COVID-19 has meant progress has slowed in some areas, the recovery effort is once again picking up pace.

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Across SA, more than 1050 kilometres of fencing has been rebuilt by BlazeAid volunteers in the wake of the summer bushfires, and while COVID-19 has meant progress has slowed in some areas, the recovery effort is once again picking up pace.

BlazeAid founder Kevin Butler said COVID-19 had "overshadowed" those who had suffered in the bushfires, but there was still plenty of work to be done.

"We really have to make a conscious effort to support these people who are still suffering, and who are still trying to recover," he said.

Four BlazeAid camps were set up following the fires, at Edithburgh (Yorketown fire recovery) Kingston SE (Keilira fire), Lobethal (Adelaide Hills fire) and Parndana (Kangaroo Island fire).

The Edithburgh camp opened in December and wrapped up in February, with 162km of fences rebuilt on properties affected by the Yorketown fires, while in Kingston SE, 250km of fencing on the Keilira fireground was rebuilt in four months, wrapping up in May when all work had been completed.

At Lobethal, the camp opened in early January, but Mr Butler said the decision was made to halt the camp in late March as a result of its close proximity to Adelaide, which was seen as a concern in light of COVID-19.

The Lobethal camp reopened on Monday last week to experienced fencers only, with 10 volunteers presently working, according to Lobethal BlazeAid coordinator Sue Jackson.

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While the camp was receiving more than 60 people each day earlier in the year, Ms Jackson said the base would open up to accept all volunteers as further restrictions eased.

So far, BlazeAid Lobethal volunteers have cleared more than 340km of fences, and erected 150km of new fencing, with progress roughly at the halfway point, and further progress dependent on weather, equipment availability and easing of restrictions.

KI BlazeAid efforts have continued through COVID-19, and relied on a core group of 34 volunteers for most of April and May while no new volunteers were being accepted, but local coordinator Greg Stevens said the camp had reopened last week to accept all volunteers.

"We'd like to get people with fencing experience on board, who could help take the lead," he said.

"Just over 500km of fence has been erected, and we expect there is probably that much left to go."

Mr Stevens said the camp was largely made up of backpackers, which had led to a vehicle shortage, and he encouraged anyone who had vehicles that could be used, to get in contact. With limited accommodation available, he also urged new volunteers to come with their own accommodation if possible.

  • Details: Greg Stevens 0427 616 323.

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