At the Snug Bushfire Memorial on Thursday, February 7, members of the Snug Volunteer Fire Brigade, local community, and members of local and Federal government, gathered to pay their respects and remember not only those directly affected by the fires which raged in the district, but all who suffered loss of life or property, on the 52nd Anniversary of the tragic day.
A stark reminder is the recent fire situation and how dangerous and unpredictable a fire can be in fluctuating weather conditions during this time of the year in Tasmania.
Senators Eric Abetz, Catryna Bilyk, Kingborough Councillor Steve Wass and Snug Volunteer Fire Brigade firefighter David Archer, all shared their memories of the devastating 1967 Bushfires, on Black Tuesday, and Snug Volunteer Brigade Chief, Will Bylett laid a wreath with other members of the public.
The bushfire claimed 64 lives and left 7000 people homeless, burning out 265,000 hectares, and stock losses of 80,000, largely sheep.
Snug was nearly wiped out with the loss of 11 residents, 80 houses, two churches and two shops.
A temporary village was established at the town oval for residents who had lost their homes.
David Archer, a member of the Snug Volunteer Fire Brigade since 1969, organised the anniversary gathering and shared his personal account of the tragic day.
As a 15 year old boy, who lived in Snug, David attended Taroona High School, and his family home was lost in the bushfire.
David was evacuated to the beach at Taroona, and unable to get home that night billeted with a teacher on the Eastern Shore.
He showed his prized possession, a bottle opener he bought for his father on a school trip to Canberra two years prior, that had survived the blaze.
During the height of the fire his mother drove their ute into the middle of one of the paddocks on the property for safety.
The vehicle was found unscathed the following day and the souvenir bottle opener was recovered, David’s only treasured momento from his childhood, that holds special memories.
Joining David on the anniversary were his colleagues, including his son, fellow members of the Snug Volunteer Fire Brigade, who finally had a reprieve from fighting the recent bushfires in the Geeveston area after welcome rain overnight.
They have been fighting since Christmas Day when they were called to the Bruny Island fire.
The volunteers have had trucks assisting with the Riveraux fire since January 28, with only one day where the trucks and personnel weren’t required.
Rain on Wednesday, February 6, and into Thursday eased the risk from fires burning across the state.
Up to 30mm of rain fell on fires including those at Riveaux Road Great Pine Tier, Gell River and Brittons Swamp.
A number of the other fires burning across the southwest wilderness area also received significant rain.
At the Riveaux Road fire the rain allowed some crews to be released to undertake impact assessments and assess fire affected roads for dangerous trees and other hazards.
Where appropriate unsafe trees were felled and roads cleared. Other fire crews maintained patrolling and reported that fire activity was reasonably low.
While the rain has eased the risk to communities, the Tasmania Fire Service urges Tasmanians not to become complacent.
There is still many more days and weeks ahead for fire crews who will patrol fire edges blacking out and extinguishing hotspots.
This important work will need to be done to ensure these fires are completely contained.
The Tasmania Fire Service says there will be more challenging days ahead this bushfire season as February is historically the worst month for fire weather.