The bushland may be tinder for the fires, but our townspeople are tender with hearts aflame.
Over the past week, emergency services, led by the NSW Rural Fire Service, have responded to large bushfires, such as in the Royal National Park and neighbouring Braidwood and Bannaby, near Taralga.
Temperatures were scorching over the weekend with many among us, we are sure, not completely caught off guard by the series of some 50 fires throughout the state.
And while many took to the pool or an air conditioner to keep cool, a movement of residents got together to help the dozens of volunteer firefighters braving the heat and battling the flames with material and moral support.
On social media, the NSW RFS had posted a photo of firefighters resting on bare ground, having a short break just behind the battlelines before heading back into the field.
They did not have the comfort of blankets or pillows, nor change of clothes or food beside them.
One local began a discussion about the meaning of the word ‘hero’ and how it was often misused.
They pointed to the photo, confirming what many must have felt when first setting eyes upon it: that these were heroes, strong but humble in the face of danger.
Over January 19-21, the out of control bushfire in Bannaby burnt through more than 1100 hectares. The smoke was suffocating as the hot sun peered through skies hued red and grey.
Among the outpouring of concern online for people, property and livestock, what was most inspiring was the resolve of like minds in the community to make a difference in the district at a desperate time.
All of the donations were initiated by the townspeople, sufficient to continue until the bushfire threat has passed.
NSW RFS operational officer for the Southern Tablelands, Daniel Osborne, said the volunteer fire crews were grateful for the donated food, drink and supplies.
So, to the crews tackling the fire’s fury, the calm Triple Zero operators taking calls, the helpers cooking meals and making brews for those in the frontline, and the folk whose donations made a difference – thank you.
You are helping to beat the bushfire on several fronts, and your actions – from the seemingly small and unseen, to the large and legendary – will linger longer than the smoke from that fiery front.