Volunteers withdraw from Sir Ivan fire recovery efforts |Storymap

NEW ERA: Joy Beames, named as Orana Volunteer of the Year, said the Sir Ivan Fire camp was closing on Friday after spending sevens months helping those affected. Photo: ORLANDER RUMING
NEW ERA: Joy Beames, named as Orana Volunteer of the Year, said the Sir Ivan Fire camp was closing on Friday after spending sevens months helping those affected. Photo: ORLANDER RUMING

There have been more than 1000 volunteers give their time towards the Sir Ivan fire recovery but on Friday they’ll all be farewelled.

The Sir Ivan bush fire began February 11.

It destroyed 35 homes in Uarbry and the surrounding areas. It destroyed more than 55,000 hectares, according to NSW Rural Fire Service, as well as 5700 kilometres of fencing. The blaze killed 2000 sheep, 56 cattle, 90 goats and 36 poultry.

BlazeAid has spent the past seven months rebuilding fences, but the group will close their camp on Friday.

Joy Beames, CWA Dunedoo Appeal chair, was named as Orana Volunteer of the Year on Wednesday for her work following the fire.

Ms Beames, who is also CWA Dunedoo president, said the CWA appeal had raised more than $310,000 since the bush fire, which has gone towards jobs such as repairing fences and rebuilding chicken sheds.

BlazeAid had done some amazing things, Ms Beames said, but so had the local community groups.

“Community organisations have been rostered on for six night a week for the whole seven months and that’s been a big ask. But they’ve done it willingly,” she said.

However, it was now coming to an end.

“In the farming community it may be different but the local community, everyone feels that it’s time. And this is the longest job BlazeAid has ever done. It had to come to an end at sometime. They’ve got almost all the boundary fences up now which was their goal,” she said.

While everyone had been really grateful for the help, the CWA president said the drought was having a significant affect. Food stocks had been lost in the fire, Ms Beames said, and with a dry state hay was getting harder to access.

“There’s one farmer who lost a lot of stock but he still had a bit left. The ewes lambed and some dogs got in and mauled the ewes and lambs. They actually said that was harder to handle than the fire in a way because they were starting to pick up,” she said.

“There’s not many stories like that but you just think ‘how much more can you kick them?’”

Ms Beames said it was a fundraising page for one of the families affected by the fire which motivated her to adopt the cause.

“It was a Facebook page that popped up and it was one of those GoFundMe’s for one particular family and I though [that’s nice for that family but what about everyone else? And what about those people who aren’t savvy with that sort of stuff? How do they get any help?’” she said.

“Some days I think ‘why on earth did I start this?’ but then you think ‘how can you not?’ How can you just not do what you can do?”

Ms Beames said the CWA already had a disaster relief fund established, ensuring there was no wait for anything to be approved by the tax office.

Donations were still trickling in, Ms Beames said, both financial and otherwise. Last week the Narromine Garden Club donated plants to allow people to start a new garden.

“Cyclone Debbie certainly made a difference. You could see that it lost its position of prominence so it’s been slower but there has to come a time when we say you have to stop doing what we can do because everyone wears out,” she said.

The volunteers, farmers and community groups will all come together Friday night to mark the end of the camp.