BURNT OUT: Coraki Fire brigade captain Bob Duncan and Beth McGrath in one of the areas ravaged by grass fires in the past week.
BURNT OUT: Coraki Fire brigade captain Bob Duncan and Beth McGrath in one of the areas ravaged by grass fires in the past week.

KIDS LIT THIS

THE RECENT spate of deliberately lit fires in Coraki's common has been branded 'blatant out of control vandalism' and a desperate health threat to local firefighters. NSW Fire Brigade Northern Rivers duty commander Chris Fabri yesterday called for a halt to the fires for fear of tragic consequences. "In my five years as duty commander I have not seen anything like this," said Mr Fabri. "We have concerns for our firefighters because they are suffering fatigue and stress. "No sooner do they tackle one fire and another is lit behind them. "We are concerned for their safety and that of the public because we don't want anyone trapped by a fire," he said. Members of Coraki Fire Brigade are at breaking point. With only four crew members out of 12 available to fight fires, the stress and workload of the last week is taking its toll. Coraki Fire Brigade captain Bob Duncan was close to tears yesterday as he tried to explain his frustration at the constant and blatant fire lighting by local arsonists. "You get to the stage you are frightened to leave town even to do the shopping because you know you are leaving the crew short a person," he said. "It's a lot of pressure." Deputy captain Beth McGrath has taken leave from the brigade for a rest from the stress. "Usually the fires are just in the common but they are now encroaching on houses," Mrs McGrath said. "There is now less and less for them to burn so they are lighting fires in other areas." According to fire fighting crew members the age of the arsonists range from three to 16-years-of-age. Backing onto the 120ha common is Coraki's hospital and retirement village. "Sometimes the smoke will invade the village and set off the smoke alarms," said Mrs McGrath. "It scares the residents, and it's not good for them. "We all have good reason to be worried because I think we will have an onslaught this summer."



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