Editorial: The RFS firefighters are the heroes in the flames

Out-of-control: The fierce blaze near Boggabri. Photo: Ashley Gardner

Out-of-control: The fierce blaze near Boggabri. Photo: Ashley Gardner

Catastrophic.There was no other word to describe Sunday. And, it was the same word used to rate the fire danger for the North West.

A perfect storm. Sweltering temperatures, gusty conditions and already scorched country.

Extreme fire warnings were in place across the state, as NSW faced the "worst possible fire conditions" on record.

RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said Sunday's fire conditions were "the worst in the state's history", and senior firefighters even went so far to describe the conditions as "off the conventional scale".

Many held their breath, it was only a matter of time before the fire alarms sounded.

In the North West, there was a handful of fires throughout the morning, but a thick black plume of smoke that billowed into the air near Boggabri about lunchtime had crews scrambling.

And, they hardly stood a chance. The mercury hovering at 45 degrees – off the back of a 40-plus week of temperatures – and a wind that had picked up.

But that didn’t deter dozens of firefighters who hit the fireground. Throwing everything they could to attack the ferocious and hellish blaze that had taken hold.

But on days like Sunday, sometimes the worst brings out the best in people.

Neighbours were helping one another. Strangers stopped to lend a hand or check on others, or as we heard, even help to round up cattle.

But the heroes in all of this are the men and women in the fire suits. Battling the blazes and dehydration and heat stroke – and most of them are volunteers.

Some of them had friends or family in the path of the fire, but still, they threw everything they had at it.

These were the ones running into the fire as most ran the other way and we must take our hat off to them.

Their selfless determination and courage to help others on days like Sunday should be commended.

We can only hope as little as possible was lost. We don’t know what sparked Sunday’s blaze near Boggabri, but we do know police made arrests around the state of suspected arsonists.

Commissioner Fitzsimmons was angry and he hit out at them. He didn’t mince his words, either.

"How dare anybody add to the extraordinary conditions out there today". And he was spot on.

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