Mick Tucker praises TFS in wake of St Helens bushfire

BLAZES: An emergency services helicopter helped fight the blaze at St Helens. Picture: Phillip Biggs
BLAZES: An emergency services helicopter helped fight the blaze at St Helens. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Break O’Day mayor Mick Tucker has praised emergency services and the St Helens community for their collective response to the Argonaut Road bushfire.

The bushfire raged for 15 days, and burned across 7500 hectares at its peak.

Despite the magnitude of the fire, there were no injuries or infrastructure damage caused by the blaze.

Cr Tucker said the community could be proud of the way it dealt with the emergency.

“We have an incredible, fantastic community, who always steps up to the plate and punches above its weight,” he said.

“You can only be proud to be a part of this community.”

Cr Tucker also expressed gratitude toward the emergency services.

“We  need to show the support and the respect that we have for Tasmania Fire Service, the Parks and Wildlife Service, Sustainable Timber Tasmania and the volunteer firefighters,” he said.

“They should really be put on a pedestal. 

“The way they engaged with the community and the Break O’Day Council was fantastic, with information centres, pamphlet dropping and door-knocking.

“All of those things made the community aware and alert, but not afraid.”

The TFS ran three community forums at St Helens during the bushfire, according to incident controller Steve Richardson. 

It also ran another community forum on Thursday to debrief the public on the bushfire, while also providing bushfire advice for the rest of summer.

In its bushfire season report released in September, the TFS said the East Coast would be vulnerable to bushfires this summer.

“It’s been a dry summer and there is still un-burnt vegetation and fuel loads, because we didn’t have many fires in 2016,” he said.

“We’ve identified where those areas are, so we’ve planned to jump on those areas quickly if a fire breaks out.”

Cr Tucker said the municipality was prepared for any potential bushfires.

“The reality is [the council] is prepared as we can be and most people in our community are prepared,” he said.

“We need to be aware and vigilant, but we don’t need to be afraid.”