Back in 2011, we wrote a blog article on Wye River’s award winning Fire Ready plan. The strategy was created by community volunteers because of the risk in living in an area surrounded by highly dense bushland. In our previous blog post, we mentioned that for the plan to work it needed to be thoroughly tested, and over the Christmas break of 2015, that is exactly what happened.
On the 25th of December 2015 a blaze became out of control and unpredictable. The fire surrounding Wye River and Separation Creek was moving quickly and erratically making it hard for firefighters to control. In all 116 homes were destroyed but more importantly no lives were lost. A huge comparison to the Black Saturday fires where 173 lives were lost. Credit must be given to emergency services and local volunteers who did everything they could to ensure the safety of local residents and holidaymakers.
It is evident that there has been significant improvement in emergency planning since the devastating fires of Black Saturday in 2009. The CFA were greatly impressed by the level of planning and management of a crisis by the people of Wye River. That a small town could enact a fire ready plan successfully within minutes is remarkable, the CFA praised residents for ensuring all people in the area were evacuated safely. Emergency services crews significantly benefited from the residents’ preparedness during a crisis.
The planning of the Wye River community is a lesson to us all on the benefits of being prepared for a potential crisis. This small idea thought up after a daily swim between a local and recurring visitor, helped to save thousands of lives 4 years later.
Without this plan in place, the fires had the potential to be deadly. The swift evacuation of visitors and residents demonstrates the importance of strategic planning and training for a crisis. The Wye River fires could have been a lot more devastating, but as a result of careful strategizing no lives were lost.