Gaeta cops fierce side of nature

THE tragedy of ravaging fires which have swept the Gaeta area, west of Gin Gin, has led to terrible loss but has also brought the community together.

Gaeta resident Hazle Marland has two properties, one behind Gaeta mountain, which was completely wiped out when the fire began earlier this week.

“I've lived on the land all my life, and I haven't seen anything as horrendous as what I've seen today (yesterday),” Mrs Marland said.

“It needs to be declared as a disaster area.”

Mrs Marland said she and her husband had lost 5000 acres, while their next door neighbour had lost 10,000 so far, and the windy conditions only exaggerated the problem.

She said although people had been lucky not to lose their homes or cattle yet, the cost of fencing and infrastructure to be replaced would be enormous.

“To lose any land at this time of year is a tragedy,” she said.

“Some of those properties, through the efforts of firefighters, have been able to salvage something.

“But it also brings out the best in everybody - everyone's working as a team.”

Mrs Marland said the contribution made by SES, Salvation Army, and all the graziers fighting the fire helped ease the situation.

“While the drought was really bad we couldn't feed the cattle, and there's nothing to feed them with right now and the trauma is very difficult for us all,” she said.

“I can't stress enough the heartbreak for the owners to see this happen.

“It's surreal - we can't relax until it's out.”

Ergon Energy corporate communications manager Rod Rehbein said the bushfires burnt down at least three power poles and also caused extended power supply interruptions on Saturday and yesterday.

Rural firefighters area director Tony Johnstone said the fire was at its worst over the weekend.

“It peaked yesterday (Saturday) and there was more activity today (yesterday), but we've got it in containment lines and working with landholders to direct it,” Mr Johnstone said.

“We had up to 20 appliances out there and are catering for over 100 people at the moment.”

Mr Johnstone said another fire that also started earlier this week, at Mt Perry, was now “well under control”.

“It's well contained but mother nature can throw a curveball periodically,” he said.

Read more: Gaeta blaze 'biggest yet'



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