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Tuesday, 25 February 2014
Page: 753

Mr MITCHELL (McEwenSecond Deputy Speaker) (13:35): On Sunday, 9 February this year, the people of McEwen suffered through their worst fire threat since Black Saturday. Almost cruelly, the fire began nearly five years to the day since the Black Saturday bushfires devastated our state. High temperatures and strong winds fanned the intense and fast-moving blazes which fire experts and authorities warned were the worst fire conditions this state had seen in five years. The fires ravaged thousands of acres of land, particularly the communities of Riddells Creek, Gisborne, Mickleham, Darraweit Guim, Wallan and Kilmore, Pyalong, Romsey and Lancefield. While many properties were destroyed we were so grateful that no lives were lost.

It is this point as well as the fact that dozens, if not hundreds, more properties were saved due to the bravery, selflessness and expertise of our emergency services particularly the Country Fire Authority. We were also lucky enough to have CFA teams come in from all across Victoria—from Ocean Grove to Stawell through to local teams in our electorate. How great are our local brigades! They choose to put their own lives at risk to serve the greater community. I would like to also thank the interstate emergency services such as the New South Wales Rural Fire Service who rallied to help their comrades down south.

Throughout this frightening week I visited the fire-affected areas and witnessed firsthand the genuine community spirit alive and well in McEwen. I am always in awe of our volunteers and the strength of our emergency services in times like these. I would like to commend our local communities and the vital support roles they have played. In times like this we must do all we can to support each another and stay safe. To all emergency services, government agencies and volunteers who helped throughout the fires, on behalf of the people of McEwen, I say thank you.