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Bushfire crisis: Jenolan Caves RFS brigade to get a new fire station | Photos, pictures

FRESH START: Works at the Jenolan Caves RFS shed site after it was destroyed during the summer bushfires. Photos: BARRY RICHARD
FRESH START: Works at the Jenolan Caves RFS shed site after it was destroyed during the summer bushfires. Photos: BARRY RICHARD

AFTER seven long months, works are finally underway to rebuild the Jenolan Caves fire station that was destroyed in the summer's bushfires.

After burning around the precinct for weeks, the massive Green Wattle Creek bushfire destroyed the fire station on New Year's Eve.

The blaze tore through with such speed that one NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteer, Robert Lethiewicz, said crews barely had time to grab their hoses and equipment before they made a run for their lives.

For firefighters, their station is everything - it's their base, a storage area for their equipment and a place they can debrief after attending confronting emergency calls.

But since New Year's Eve, the Jenolan Caves RFS brigade has had to make do.

The brigade's Senior Deputy Captain Michael Collins said while the loss of the station has had no impact on the ability to respond to emergency call-outs, in between calls the fire trucks are stored in a car park, while debriefing and paperwork is done at home.

Demolition works at the burnt-out shed started in mid-July and now all that remains is a flat patch of land.

"It's level dirt with a fire hydrant that we filled the trucks up with," Mr Collins said.

"It's a relief that something is happening and we're going to see a shed there soon.

"I think the emotions of the shed being lost are now gone for most people."

Exactly when the new station will be built is still undecided, with Oberon Council still working out just how to fit a standard RFS three-bay shed in the small area the old one once occupied.

"Real estate down there is like a Sydney waterfront; there's not a lot of it," Mr Collins said.

Real estate down there is like a Sydney waterfront; there's not a lot of it.

Jenolan Caves RFS brigade Senior Deputy Captain Michael Collins

While the brigade's trucks and radios were saved from the station before it was destroyed, the firefighters still lost a lot of equipment.

"They said it was a couple of thousand degrees in there," Mr Collins said.

After the blaze, members were overwhelmed with help from the community, businesses and other brigades.

"We had messages of support, offers of new lockers, chairs, tables, food and ration packs for when we go out to fight fires," Mr Collins said.

"We've had donations of new whitegoods for the new shed as well as power tools and toolboxes from local businesses, and even businesses from Sydney have made quite large donations.

"There's even a knitting group who donated to us."

The cost of the new shed will be covered by the RFS and its insurance.

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This story Scorched remains from summer's bushfires now gone for a new start first appeared on Lithgow Mercury.