2019 - 2020
The season outlook was not promising. Members of the brigade who were travelling during the winter months reported very dry conditions on their holiday treks.
It wasn't very long until the dry conditions turned into significant fire activity. The brigade started contributing to task force deployments in Queensland and Northern New South Wales.
In November after thunderstorms to the East of the brigade area, the fire season had arrived in the Lake George Zone district. Smoke was clearly visible from the Googong township.
But what was going to be with us all summer was smoke haze rolling into the area, even though the fires were some distance away from the brigades local area.
Late November 2019, the brigade started daily deployments to the Black Range Fire West of Braidwood.
Whilst the Black Range Fire started in the National Park, on bad fire days it would take substantial runs into farm lands.
And as soon as the fire gets into the farm lands, buildings come under threat.
With very dry conditions and hot fires, burnt out areas are left desolate.
For weeks the Brigade and other brigades from Lake George zone battled the fire trying to get it extinguished in the National Park, and rounding it up when it escaped into the farm and grass lands.
After many weeks the Black Range fire was brought under control. But almost immediately the fires that originated in the South Coast grew substantially with severe wind conditions. The fires made their way from the coastal plain to the top of Clyde Mountain and had a severe impact in Charleys Forest, the surrounding Farm lands and the area surrounding Nerriga.
Even though the fires continued to rage, some tactical recovery work needed to be done. Clearing roads is a priority so emergency services continue to have ready access to fire grounds. It also allows locals who have already suffered from the fires can begin restoring normality.
The Charleys Forest fire developed into a battle much like the earlier Black Range Fire. Each day, it was rounding up the fire as it emerged from forested areas into the farmlands and protecting property. The brigade spent weeks in the area.
Strong winds were a feature of the deployment to the Charleys Forest area and it felt like all brigades were playing wack-a-mole where the front of the fire would violently swing from one side of the fireground to the far side of the fireground, often tens of kilometres away.
Brigade members contemplate the last few weeks of firefighting.
The summer continued to drag on and fires started to come much closer to brigade local area. Just south of the Canberra airport, a grass fire is clearly visible from Royalla valley and with strong North Westerly winds was driven towards Queanbeyan.
The brigade for the vast majority of the summer had been fighting fires in other parts of the state or the zone. When a fire started in the Namadgi National Park in the ACT, we knew from our experience in 2003 it would not be long until our brigade area saw active fire. Fortunately we had time to prepare and more importantly get the community ready.
With the luck of the winds, the brigade area was spared from seeing fire impact from the Namadgi fire. With the ACT getting the upper hand on the Namadgi fire, the brigade again was deployed out to the East of the Lake George Zone. This time it was to the Jinden complex south of Krawarree.
And then it rained.....A Lot!
The 2019/2020 fire season is over. The season will not be forgotten for a long time.