Local men take on Dunns Road inferno

Batlow RFS firefighters Jason Roberts, Cooper Smith and Phil Withers after the exhausting battle to save Batlow.

BATLOW Rural Fire Service firefighting stalwart Phil Withers has battled fires for decades, and lived in Batlow and Adelong all his life but had never seen the likes of the fire that hit Batlow on Saturday night.

“I’ve never seen anything like it in my life,” he said.

“I’ve talked to older blokes and they say they hadn’t seen anything like it either. You couldn’t control it; it had a mind of it’s own.”

He believes teamwork and camaraderie among different brigades and crews helped prevail against the fire.

“All the brigades around here are pretty close,” he said.

“They did a good job and so did the other brigades who came from elsewhere in the country.”

Fellow Batlow RFS firefighter Cooper Smith was tired after battling the inferno, but able to put things in perspective.

“We started here (at Batlow RFS station) at 7am and by the time we packed everything up it was 4am the next morning,” he said.

“But we’ve all got houses to go home to, which is good. We weren’t leaving until we were confident the fire was out.”

Cooper has been a firefighter for four years, so it is no surprise he has never encountered a fire like this one before.

“No, and I never want to again,” he said.

He also reconised the value of mateship and teamwork among firefighters.

“The boys (in the Batlow RFS) are all good mates, and the locals here supported us.”