Home' The Bunyip : January 7th 2015 Contents Page 4 "THE BUNYIP" GAWLER, Wednesday, January 7, 2015
AMIDST the clouds of smoke and er-
ratic winds are the airborne heroes of
the Sampson Flat fire -- the CFS aerial
bombers that have been ferrying water
from the Gawler airfields to the fire
relentlessly since Friday.
Region Two officer John Hutchens said
the impact of the water bombers has been
significant, with the amount of water they
can bring to the area and their quick turn
"The big helicopters are picking up wa-
ter directly out of the dams and our air op-
erations crews are just working around the
clock tirelessly filling these planes up," he
"The bombers can fill within two min-
utes -- from the time it stops to the time it
gets going again is two minutes.
"It is a huge amount of water that we
(CFS ground crew) require in those areas."
Chief flying instructor of gliding op-
erations at the Adelaide Soaring Club Rob
Richter, who was on site over the weekend,
said the CFS air operations were incredible
According to Mr Richter the CFS has
permanent firefighting infrastructure at the
Gawler airfield, making it one of their key
Accordingly, all recreational flying has
been cancelled to ensure the airspace is free
for the aerial bombers.
"They are coming in quick and leaving
quick and it is best to be out of their road,"
Mr Richter said.
"There were six aircraft operating out of
here on Friday, eight on Saturday and 10
yesterday (Sunday) and at the moment it is
a bit sporadic, but there have been four to-
"The aircraft carry three tonnes of either
water, water with a wetting agent or fire re-
tardant (red liquid)."
Meanwhile, the helicopter, also known as
the 'Gypsy Lady' has been
collecting water from
dams to dump in fire
Mr Richter said the
CFS pilots are, under-
standably, exempt from
the restrictions normally
imposed on planes, mak-
ing for some bold aerial
"Some people on the
will be alarmed at how
low these planes are
to the road as they are
landing," he said.
"These pilots are 24/7
agricultural pilots, so
they are well-versed with
low flying under intense
AS the devastating Sampson Flat fire con-
tinues to burn, Playford Council is working
closely with the CFS and the community to
support bushfire victims and those currently
battling the blaze.
According to Playford Mayor Glenn Docherty,
his council has provided three water tankers to as-
sist the fight as well as undertaking intermediary
jobs, such as clearing roads of debris and fallen
trees and branches, and providing staff members
to assist the CFS command centre and crews,
"We have been doing as much as we can and we
will accept any requests from the CFS and SAPOL
and the state controller," Mr Docherty said.
On Saturday, Mr Docherty visited the One Tree
Hill Institute Hall, which council has opened up
to members of the public who have been affected
by the fire and was overwhelmed by the commu-
"They are a solid community and they are
showing what it really means to be Australian,"
"But, of course, they are obviously
in shock for their families, friends and neighbours
and obviously by talking to some they were un-
sure at that time (Saturday) whether their homes
had survived or not."
Mr Docherty told The Bunyip on Monday that
he had not yet visited the fire grounds as it was
not safe to do so given the erratic nature of the
fire, but he said he expected there will be a sig-
nificant loss of livestock and property damage in
and around parts of the fire that are within the
Playford Council has also opened up a pet-
friendly refuge at Ramsay Oval in Edinburgh
North, with food and drinks for people relocating
as a result of the fire, and an area for horses or
livestock to be safely contained.
Access to Ramsay Oval is via Barfield Crescent,
and owners are advised it is their responsibility to
care for their livestock and pets while at the oval.
The McGilp Oval in One Tree Hill is currently
being utilised as the CFS staging site for the area.
"These are trying times for many of the
hills communities across South Australia, so
I would really like to say a big thank you to
all those emergency services volunteers and
their families and friends for allowing them
to do the great job that they do, under no ob-
ligation or compulsion," Mr Docherty said.
"These people love their community, they love
their country and, as far as I'm concerned, they're
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Heroes of the sky
Ground crews at the Gawler air elds were at out
during the re ghting e orts because as one plane
was re lling another would y out.
CFS air operations crew John
Paynter, Ben Ingham and Tim
Jenkin are ready to re ll the
next arriving aerial bomber.
PHOTOS: Alec Urquhart
INSET: A C130 bomber ies above the re
depositing ame retardant to assist the re
ghting e ort.
PHOTO: Mike Lane
ABOVE: A pilot receives refreshments during a
water- re ll stop at Gawler air elds.
" ROB RICHTER
The aircraft carry three
tonnes of either water, water with
a wetting agent or ﬁre retardant
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