Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bishop joins fire battle front

Among the strike team of 25 Country Fire Authority volunteers from Ballarat battling blazes in the Kinglake area during February's horrific bushfires was Michael Hough, the Anglican Bishop of Ballarat.

He keeps his CFA pager with him, day and night. Even on Sunday, he is on duty, joining a team dealing with local fires. Many, he said, have been caused by power line damage, setting grass alight.

“The contrasts and the extremes are extraordinary in Australia today,” he said. “I just received a phone call from the bishop of north Queensland, which has suffered severe flooding, and he is more concerned about crocodiles bumping into his front door.”

Bishop Hough, aged 56, is a member of the Wendouree brigade – appropriately named after the lake in central Ballarat that has dried up, to the extent that the CFA recently had to put out a fire there.

The strike team he joined to combat the Kinglake fires, contained five tankers each staffed by five fire-fighters. Their deployment meant the volunteers remaining in Ballarat were more likely to be called out to local blazes.


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