Friday the 2nd January 2015 saw temperatures rise to 39.8C at Moyston, a small rural town west of Ararat and south of Stawell VIC. Just before midday, a fire started nearby with strong winds blowing.  By 1:00pm, the situation looked very serious. CFA had called in water bombing aircraft from Stawell, Ballarat and Avalon airports and a massive air assault was soon underway. There were hundreds of CFA volunteer fire fighters, emergency services and many DEPI Strike teams.

An incident control centre (ICC) at Horsham was set up and the CFA logistics controller called the RRT at 1:45PM requesting catering for all emergency services. The staging area was to be set up at the Moyston Football oval.

By 5:00PM the Stawell RRT started arriving. BBQ’s were quickly set up, the clubroom facilities cleaned out, procedures are being put into position, and offers of help from local residents flood in.

The RRT contacted a Stawell butcher for obtaining hamburgers “No problem – I was thinking this was going to happen!” A short while later he had produced 800 hamburger patties – and a vast amount of sausages. The local baker’s reaction was much the same – “I was waiting for RRT to call again – I have 400 rolls ready to go, and will cook more right now”!

By 6:00PM RRT was serving hamburgers to hungry firefighters – and more strike teams were still arriving. That night, RRT served approximately 420 evening meals.

Throughout the night, RRT provided various refreshments for a further 110 firefighters. Approximately 80 meals were sent to the fire front during the night.

Early the next morning, RRT were still at it – managing to get the local Woolworths to open up at 5:00AM for them. The local egg farm also helpfully opened up at 5:30AM – even though the proprietor had been firefighting all night as well.

Armed with 800 eggs, bacon and cheese, RRT served breakfast (about 480 meals) at 6:30AM to the crews.

The ICC were continually in contact with RRT. They pass on regular feedback they are receiving about the RRT from CFA, MFB, Vic Police and DEPI.

On Saturday, RRT were asked to provide approximately 600 salad rolls for lunch, enabling the fire fighters to stay at the front line as much as possible. A team from Ballarat RRT soon arrived – and a systematic salad roll production line churned out fresh ham and salad rolls for lunch.

During the afternoon, a welcome cool change came with heavy rain across the region. This changed things quickly and by late afternoon the fire is downgraded. That night for tea, RRT serve approximately 300 meals – roast beef and gravy rolls with salad and cheese. ICC agree to the RRT winding down on Saturday night.

On Sunday morning RRT members returned to pick up the RRT trailer. Upon their arrival, some firefighters descended on the facility expecting another meal! So in sympathy for these weary volunteers, RRT obliged and fired up the BBQ and cooked 50 bacon and egg rolls for breakfast before packing up.

Meanwhile further to the west across the other side of the Grampians, firefighters were still battling a large fire at Rocklands. Due to unpredictable weather conditions –  high temperatures, northerly winds and thunderstorms – 1800 hectares was burnt by the Rocklands-Rees Road fire.

By Wednesday 6th January, the fire was burning around and over containment lines. Strong winds were making it difficult to control.

The ICC contacted RRT again to ask if they could set up a base at Telangatuk East to provide hot meals and refreshments for the weary firefighters coming from the fire front.

The RRT from Hamilton and Stawell, arrived the following morning at 5:30AM, and served approximately 200 meals throughout the day. Being a mobile site, 80 km from any supermarket, the RRT had to be prepared for the worst. The team battled with muddy working conditions, pouring rain and muggy weather. The grateful firefighting teams left plenty of positive feedback which well and truly made the effort worthwhile.

The RRT was very thankful for the willingness of the Hamilton Woolworths, who specially opened their bakery at 2am to make 250 hamburger rolls and donated 150 hot cross buns for breakfast.

High humidity and heavy rain helped dampen down the blazes and the area was now facing possible floods. Fortunately, by Thursday afternoon, the forecasted storms blew over. The RRT finished at 9:30pm, with a great sense of achievement knowing that they had helped out in a time of need.

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