BlazeAid volunteers hard at work

Volunteers Josh Pogsom, Isabelle Ward, Kerry Richter and Barry Pogsom with Adelong camp coordinator Christine Male.

Volunteer organisation BlazeAid has been hard at work in the region for over two weeks now since establishing their base camp at Adelong Showground on January 15.

As of yesterday, there are about 70 volunteers on site who have been focusing on repairing fences in the area, including clearing burnt fences off nearby properties so new ones can be built.

Volunteers have come from all across Australia to lend a helping hand, and even a few backpackers have volunteered their time to the cause. Base camp coordinator, Christine Male, said that volunteers of all different ages are getting involved too.

“There’s some grey nomads, and some a lot younger,” she said.

Around 180 farmers have reached out to BlazeAid over the last fortnight. Christine said she is very happy with the progress being made on various properties.

“Because we’ve got such a lot of people, we’re getting quite a bit of work done quite quickly.”

Christine is “absolutely” expecting more volunteers to arrive, especially considering BlazeAid is going to be in the region for at least another six months.

Training is ongoing at the camp and shows no signs of slowing down. There is a massive need for more coordinators to manage the surrounding camps that will open in the coming months.

“We’re hoping by next Friday we’ll have Tumbarumba ready to open,” Christine said.

Christine is from Gippsland and has been volunteering with BlazeAid for almost eight years, inspired to do so in order to ‘pay-it-forward’.

“We just wanted to pay back for the help we’ve been given when we’ve needed it, and this is our way of trying to give something back to the community,” she said.

The experienced volunteer has been hard at work long before the Adelong camp was opened. In November, Christine established a camp at Wingham and was there until after Christmas. She then opened camps at Willawarrin, Maxwell and Wauchope before coming to Adelong this month.

At every camp Christine has been involved with, the same problem has arisen ¬– farmers who are in dire need of help don’t reach out and ask for it because pride gets in the way.

Christine urges farmers in the area to reach out and ask for help if they have not done so yet.

“We’re here, and we know how many properties have been impacted by fires, and we know we still need a lot more people to come forward needing help, so don’t let pride stand in the way.”