Family firefighting tradition

By Zane Jackson

DONNA Chamberlain navigates the four-wheel drive down the beaten bulldust track, escaping the flames and smoke that surrounded the area we were standing on just a few minutes earlier.

Her daughter Andrea Sly is left behind, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the men of the Kinkuna Rural Fire Service volunteers battling the blaze.

"I know she will be alright and can look after herself, but you always have that worry as a mother when you leave them behind," Ms Chamberlain said.

Ms Chamberlain and her front-seat passenger Denese McKenzie are also with the rural firefighters, working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the smooth running of the frontline fighting.

"She's been to a few fires before, but this is definitely the biggest," Ms Chamberlain said.

"It's always on the back of your mind when they are out there, but I know she's in good company."

Ten minutes earlier her daughter spoke confidently about her crew's battle with the fire.

"This is the first time I've been out on the grounds fighting a fire," Ms Sly said.

"As soon as I turned 16 I signed up."

She spoke about the firefighting efforts to that point, but was wary of any slight change to conditions.

"It depends if the wind changes," she said.

"By the sounds of things it's not looking good."

Only seconds passed before the wind changed and a small near-by spot fire gathered steam and pushed towards us.

The firefighting crew wave off those going back to base, and Ms Chamberlain tells her daughter to stay safe before jumping in to the four-wheel drive.

"It's weird to see all that smoke and think, my daughter is in there," she said.



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