Volunteers fence-in victims of bush fire

Blazeaid to the rescue after Tenterfield and Tabulam fires destroy fences


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Blaze Aid volunteers working near Tabulam, Gerry Brown, Tweed Heads; Stephen Maxwell, Mt Gambier, SA; Colin Young, Mapleton, Qld and Ken Guymer, Wollongong.

Blaze Aid volunteers working near Tabulam, Gerry Brown, Tweed Heads; Stephen Maxwell, Mt Gambier, SA; Colin Young, Mapleton, Qld and Ken Guymer, Wollongong.

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Blazaid volunteers give their all to re-fence kilometers of burnt boundaries.

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Cattle country near Tabulam, scorched to black back in February, is green again after March rain. Now a team of hardy Blazeaid volunteers are fencing it in.

The mammoth effort to revive ruined boundaries surrounding devastated grazing land from the Clarence River west over the Queensland border to Wallangarra has been in operation for two months, with helpers camped - in caravans and tents - every night at the Tenterfield show ground, where it's lights-out before 9pm - by choice. Come daybreak they team is on the job.

The country on top of the Dividing Range remains dry and quiet - no birds have yet returned, reports Sunshine Coast volunteer Colin Young, from Mapelton, Qld who came to this Blazeaid camp with a bunch of mates from the local mens' shed.

But down the eastern slopes below Drake reasonable March rains have transformed the place, and there is hope springing eternal.

Here, along Plains Station Road where the February fire raced across the landscape, Mr Young and other volunteers are spending long days assisting others.

"It's about helping a mate," explained Mr Young, who says when the team gets back to camp at dark there is little energy for frivolity.

Most volunteers have donated their time with other Blazeaid camps in the past, at such blackened places as Coonabarabran and Dunedoo, or most recently, Yinnar, Vic, to which Stephen Maxwell drove 1300 kilometres from Mt Gambier, SA, before heading north another 1100km to the Tenterfield camp.

"We give to people who have lost their livelihood," he said of his heroic actions.

Related reading: Fire threatens Tabulam properties

Tenterfield camp co-ordinators Ed and Judy Bland, from Bridgetown WA, have volunteered at disaster zones like King Lake, and Julia Creek. On Thursday they presented a donated black baldie heifer for auction at the Tenterfield store sale, given to the organisation by an anonymous beef producer affected by the fires. The calf made $626, much more than the highest priced females on the day, and all money will go back to helping farmers recover from disaster like fire and drought.

"There are no administration fees," said Mrs Bland.

Between the start of this particular Blaze Aid camp on March 29 until early May a team of 70 volunteers with an average age of nearly 64 have spent a total of 679 days clearing 40km of line and erecting more than 67 kilometres of four strand wire fence across 59 farms.

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