From Jan Murphy, Katherine Volunteer Bushfire Brigade member.
A debriefing session was held last month after the most uncontrollable and sustained fire in the Katherine region in living memory.
The fire which started on Saturday, October 19 burned from Stuart Estate to the Fergusson River - about 35,000 hectares of valuable pasture was lost.
The Katherine Volunteer Bushfire Brigade and Bushfires NT were notified that a fire had started on the Stuart Hwy north of Stuart Estate at 1.30pm that Saturday.
It continued for seven days.
On Saturday, November 2, Katherine and Edith Farms brigades as well as landholders, had opportunity to attend a forum at Edith Farms and I found it to be well worth the trip.
Presenters were executive staff from Bushfires NT.
They gave us a step by step picture of each day in terms of the weather, juggling BF staff and precise progress of the fire.
I came to understand this fire was impossible to stop during the first four days due to the constant high winds and hours of gusting in the vicinity of 50kmh.
It became a nature's game of jump and chase!
In these horrific conditions it's hats off to the volunteers, landholders and their many supporters as well as machinery operators on ground and airborne.
Super hats off to BFNT staff for their amazing effort to cobble together the digital feed from BOM weather for this specific area, fuel dryness and landform, breaks available, best use of volunteers and machinery and basically attempting to conclude which strategy would yield a mitigating outcome.
It wasn't until the fifth day some abatement in wind speed and duration allowed some containment and by the end of day six, those on the fire ground felt they had finally broken its phenomenal progress.
As black out was now the priority it was revealed 35,000 hectares of pasture was lost.
This incident has been the most uncontrollable and sustained fire in the Katherine region in the memory of locals.
The forum produced ideas and suggestions for future similar incidents, many worthy of brain storming and consideration.
But one of the best ideas was to invite representatives of Red Cross, EASA and Council of Churches who offered (and will continue to offer), information, strategies or just a listening ear for those who suffer trauma, regardless of how minute, as a result of being involved in a potentially life threatening situation for perhaps, several days.
Everyone is encouraged to self- assess, recognize and admit changes that may have occurred to one's self and take advantage of a chat with a person who understands where you are, psychologically. Your future thinking will be clearer and happier as a result of the chat!
A special thanks to EFVBB for a ripper BBQ and wonderful hospitality. Thanks to all for helping with this fire, whether "a chief or an Indian".
Your collaboration, selfless community spirit and bravery is once again, a sincere attempt to protect life, property and the environment from the threat of fire.