‘Takes its toll’: CFS volunteers make home fire safety plea

Two Wells CFS volunteers Sean O’Brien, Adam Harris and Jon Thomas want locals to take extra care this winter to prevent house fires. PHOTO: Sam Bradbrook

AFTER a horror bushfire season, the last thing Two Wells Country Fire Service (CFS) captain Adam Harris wants is for he and his crew to battle another series of devastating blazes.

In the past month, four separate house fires have struck the wider Gawler region, with a pair them in Two Wells.

On May 10, a man died after his house burnt down during the night, with investigators unable to establish the cause of the blaze.

Last Tuesday morning, a smoke alarm saved two people after their Glover Road home went up in flames in a fire caused by a running clothes dryer.

A week prior, in Freeling, an open fire place is believed to have ignited a fire which destroyed a home and caused between $150,000-$200,000 damage.

The most recent occurred on Sunday morning near Tanunda, when an abandoned cottage was significantly damaged by a fire which is not believed to be suspicious.

Mr Harris said fighting house fires takes a mental toll on CFS volunteers who sacrifice their time to serve the community.

“The first one was a fatal house fire and that does really take its toll on the guys. No one wants to go to that type of incident,” he said.

“I’d like to thank my crews for their efforts. They’re the ones really doing the hard yards.

“One of those fires was at 3am, so that affects their day at work the next day, and the other was a fatal fire which affects different people in different ways.”

Like many other CFS crews across the state, Two Wells volunteers travelled across Australia to support their colleagues fighting the summer’s devastating bushfires.

The CFS and Metropolitan Fire Service launched home fire safety week on Monday to educate the public on how to avoid house fires in winter.

As the temperature drops, people turn to heaters and fires to keep themselves warm, but Mr Harris said their incorrect use is often the cause of house fires.

“There’s a lot of people who hibernate (in winter), but they need to think about combustion heaters and make sure the flues are clean and tidy,” he said.

“If you have a heater, make sure you don’t have any clothing or anything that’s combustible too close to those heaters. When they get too hot they ignite.”

Mr Harris added country residents who rely on CFS crews should take extra care as their response time can take slightly longer due to their volunteer status.

“We all respond to the station as quick as we can then roll to the incident,” he said.

“When you rock up, quite often there’s flames through the windows and roof. Sometimes our response time can be a bit slower than the paid guys.

“Sometimes help can be a lot further away in the country than in the city, so you’ve got to be that little more switched on.”

Sam Bradbrook

@sambradbrook

Sam Bradbrook joined The Bunyip in 2018 as a reporter and covers the Gawler, Playford and Adelaide Plains Council rounds. He graduated from the University of South Australia in the same year with a Bachelor of Journalism and Professional Writing and had previously interned at the Jakarta Post in Indonesia and The Courier in Mount Barker before moving to Gawler. In February of 2020, Sam was named the Young Journalist of the Year for 2019 by Country Press South Australia. He is interested in reporting on politics, healthcare, police and social issues and outside of work has a passion for sport and music.

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