Phillip Prook
Phillip Prook Jon Wallis

'We could smell the smoke 150km out to sea'

WITH bushfires now having taken 220,000 hectares of Tasmania's bush, mainly in the southwest, but also others across the state, complete with a number of houses and properties, a timber mill and an apple processing works, the situation has been grim here from prior to Christmas.

At one stage there were 75 fires burning uncontrolled, and uncontrollable.

With approximately six hundred fire fighters, who have been joined by volunteer crews and aircraft from all the mainland states.

Tasmania has also welcomed a group of 28 remote access firefighters and an incident management team in air operations from New Zealand, who began doing battle with the major blazes engulfing the state.

There have also been numerous truck and heavy equipment drivers giving of their time in support, too many to name.

We were delighted to catch up with Phillip Rook from Illawarra ,

His truck had caught our eye immediately, a NSW Rural Fire Service 2012 R480 Scania towing a Tautliner, and he had been delivering aircraft fire retardant to Youngtown and Cambridge.

"I was hoping to see a bit more of Tasmania, but have mainly seen smoke! Coming down we could smell the smoke from about 150km out to sea, it was pretty horrific," he said.

Phillip tells us he is rapt in his work, which takes him here there and everywhere, wherever there are fires to fight, though mostly in New South Wales.

When asked about time off, he gave us a big smile, and replied: "That's normally spent doing more volunteering."

He also asked us to say hello to Alf Wilson from Big Rigs whom he met recently in NSW.

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