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Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

For ten days now, Rural Fire Service (RFS) Crews have been battling fires closing in on Tenterfield properties.

At one point most, if not all, roads leading in and out of Tenterfield were blocked by fires and smoke, as residents and community services fought to save their lives and livelihoods.

“We have had an incredible amount of lightning strikes and our RFS and our local farmers were just going from fire to fire, helping each other and supporting each other as much as they could before moving on to the next fire,” said Kim Rhodes, farmer and Councillor for Tenterfield Shire Council.

“On the worst day, I was out helping my sister and brother-in-law to get their house packed just in case they were in the unfortunate path of the fire, but luckily the RFS was there and caught the fire as it came closer.”

“The RFS got there in the nick of time, and they put it out, and they move onto the next fire.”

“They are an amazing well organised group of people working extremely hard with our farmers and moving through the community as required.”

Kim has property out at Steinbrook and fire a currently burning at her Gilgurry property in Boorook, where her husband is continuing to manage and put out today.

“Its now the aftermath, things are settling down but it’s a very hot day, so things are still burning, and we have farmers all around on hoses doing thing, we have RFS staff looking to back burn places to protect them,” said Kim.

“They are expecting to have some incredibly hot days next week in our shire, so the RFS teams are working with our farmers to make sure we don’t get into another day like we had earlier this week.”

Kim has been working tirelessly at the Tenterfield Show Ground Evacuation Centre throughout the week, assisting evacuees from Wallangarara, Jennings and neighbouring locations, providing food and a safe place to shelter from the blazes.

“Some people didn’t know when they would be allowed back, what they were going back to, and if their home was going to be there or not,” said Kim.

“There were four homes burnt down, but luckily for Tenterfield a lot of the fires were stopped at the front door or the back door of homes, but the feed is all gone all over, and there as a lot of cattle lost in our shire,

“Its about recover now and working together and having each other’s back.”

The Impact on the Ground

On the ground farmers are still trying to secure stock safely and find a place with suitable fencing to place them.

 “We have lost all of our fences, and we have no feed for our cattle, so people are trying to move stock and get fences back up,” said Kim.

“The amount of fodder that has been lost on our shire is incredible.”

The local Tenterfield Lions Club is working with Aussie Hay Runners to get hay in Tenterfield urgently, however, more help is needed.

“There is a huge need for fencing material so if people want to help, from a Rotary Club, or a CWA or Lions Club, perhaps they can support with a little bit of funds so we can help farmers with those sorts of thing, you can contact our local clubs,” said Kim.

Tenterifield’s Resilient community

Despite the devastating impacts of this week’s bushfires, Tenterfield continues to show its true colours of resistance and survival.

“Tenterfield people are use to fire because we seem to be in that place that fires come,”

“There is so much farming land and property around, there is a lot of land between homes, so yes, this does happen and its what bring our community together.”

The evacuation centre is currently closed but remains ready should it be required in the near future.

Until then, clean up, recovering and survival continues, and visitors are encouraged to keep Tenterfiled on their future travel plans.

“Don’t forget to come and visit Tenterfield in a month because we will certainly want our visitors back and helping our shop keepers as well,” said Kim.

Top image: fires near Tenterfield (Kim Rhodes)

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