Duck Ponds bushfire

Mr TRELOAR (Flinders) (15:17): During mid-afternoon on Monday of this week, a fire took hold just west of Port Lincoln in the area known as Duck Ponds. Strong north-westerly winds pushed the fire quickly towards the city, and on a day of extreme fire danger, emergency services, which were very much at the ready, responded immediately. The CFS, the SES, SAPOL and SA Water were all on site very quickly.

I want to give particular credit to the Aerotech company that has a contract with the South government to provide water bombing coverage. They had eight fixed-wing aircraft flying out of the Port Lincoln airport on that day, plus I think one chopper for observation of the fireground. In what were very difficult flying conditions—in fact, the weather conditions for the day tipped over into catastrophic at one point—the water bombers worked fearlessly, to use that term, to drop water and assist with controlling the fire.

The Zone Emergency Support Team (ZEST) was set up in the CFS/SES complex and from there they directed operations. Certainly, they were very busy on the Monday. A refuge centre was also set up at the Kirton Point Bowling Club. Many people self-evacuated.

Unfortunately, Port Lincoln has become all too used to this sort of situation. The number of fires that have occurred in the last 10 years or so right on the outskirts of the city number four or five. So people are ready, people are prepared and people know what to do, and I guess that is the advantage when you get a situation like this that people are prepared. They have their properties prepared and they have a plan prepared. Regardless of that, the Kirton Point Bowling Club was set up as a refuge centre. Many people, as I said, self-evacuated and went to stay with friends further into town or up-country.

The fire was contained by that evening. Monitoring and mopping up continued, of course, and continued through yesterday. It finished up with a fire footprint of some 280 hectares, I believe. I stand corrected on that. Of course, I was here in Adelaide on Monday during the sitting week. I want to thank our whip for organising a pair for me to be home again on the Tuesday, not that I could do much but it was nice to be able to touch base with people who were involved either with the emergency services or with cleaning up properties after the fire.

There were some property losses. I believe two houses were burnt. One of those, in fact, was abandoned. There was one inhabited house right on the outskirts of town that was lost. There were certainly a few sheds, some fencing and some motor vehicles lost but, thankfully, there were only minor injuries as a result of this fire. I want to say congratulations to all the respondents but also to the residents of Port Lincoln for their preparedness and calmness in the face of another dramatic situation.

A big thankyou to the Boston Football Club, the Salvation Army for providing sustenance and Kimba Racing Club for donating their Toyota to assist in transporting CFS volunteers alongside EP Bus Charters. Q Mechanical Services, at short notice on the morning, kindly donated a forklift. The list is endless. I will have missed people there. There were numerous businesses in and around Port Lincoln who opened up their hearts and donated drinks and food. I certainly know that the volunteers, SES and CFS appreciated all of that very much.

In the remaining minute—and I know the member for Colton has flagged a Private Member’s Motion for later this year—I want to pay tribute to Kieran Modra who was born in Port Lincoln. It is the name well known to all South Australians. Kieran was an Australian Paralympic swimmer and tandem cyclist who won five gold and five bronze medals at eight Paralympic games from 1988 to 2016. I will say more when the motion comes up, but Modra grew up on a farm at Greenpatch, just 20 kilometres north of Port Lincoln, which now is run by his brother Mark. I spoke to Mark this morning briefly; he is a neighbour of mine. To quote Mark, ‘Nothing was impossible for Kieran, absolutely nothing. There was no such thing as can’t.’ Condolences to the Modra family.

Time expired.


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