Fire bugs out of control
By HANNAH ROSS
FIREFIGHTERS in Coraki are at their wits end after spending yesterday battling yet another deliberately lit blaze on the common adjacent to the Box Ridge community.
Yesterday's fire wraps up an horrendous month for retained fire-fighters at the Coraki fire station.
Since July 1 they have attended four fires at the Box Ridge community and a further 29 fires on the common, a bushy area of about 120ha between Box Ridge and the Coraki township.
NSW Fire Brigades captain Bob Duncan said every one of the fires was deliberately lit.
"We see the kids running away when we get there to put out the fires," he said.
"Often while we are putting out one fire they are off somewhere else lighting another."
Statistics kept by the fire station show a total of 81 call-outs since January 1. Crews were required to extinguish 11 fires at Box Ridge, 45 on the common, and two in Dibbs Street next to the common.
Capt Duncan said endless fire call-outs was putting a strain on the local crew and the community.
He said although Coraki had 12 retained firefighters the responsibility to attend the blazes often fell on the same four men whose employers let them have the time off. Two work at the local primary school and two for Richmond Valley Council.
The fires have ranged from minor grass fires to serious blazes that have threatened property.
Capt Duncan said one fire licked at the fence of the Mid-Richmond Retirement Village.
Staff at the home were forced to hose down their fence to protect the building and chemicals stored nearby.
Smoke filled the home and set off the smoke alarms.
"Police say their hands are tied because they need to catch culprits in the act," Capt Duncan said.
The fires at Coraki are going to be raised at an emergency services meeting held this evening at Richmond Valley Council Chambers.
"Hopefully someone might come up with suggestions about what we can do," Capt Duncan said.