Horsham Rural City Council thanks Grampians bushfire volunteers, crews

HORSHAM Rural City Council has formally thanked volunteers and crews who helped during and after the Grampians bushfire in January.

About 35 people attended a function at Horsham Civic Centre on Tuesday.

Mayor David Grimble said BlazeAid, service groups, emergency service agencies, council and the community were represented.

Retiring Member for Lowan Hugh Delahunty also attended.

“It was an opportunity for us to acknowledge the valuable input provided during the recent fire,” Cr Grimble said.

The civic reception preceded closure of the Laharum BlazeAid base camp on April 26.

Camp co-ordinator John Lillico said he expected volunteers would have built more than 200 kilometres of fencing by then.

Mr Lillico, Graham Pyper and Bettina and Geoff Gillard were among the first BlazeAid volunteers to roll into Laharum, and they will be among the last to leave.

They represented BlazeAid at Tuesday’s event.

“They all spoke highly of us and thanked us,” Mr Lillico said.

But for him, a highlight was catching up with some of the fire-affected property owners.

“Luke Dunn, Bernie Dunn and Ivan Smith turned up,” he said.

“Theirs were some of the first places we worked on, and it was good to see them again.”

He expected BlazeAid’s departure would be cause for some well-earned festivities.

Many of the volunteers will leave Laharum for North Queensland, to assist with recovery from Cyclone Ita.

Although BlazeAid will leave soon, Cr Grimble said the fire recovery process was far from over.

“It’s going to take some time,” he said.

“There are a number of people who lost their residences, who obviously have a range of emotions and needs that are ongoing.

“Council will manage requests as they come in.”

Industries such as tourism and agriculture would also need time and hard work to fully bounce back.

“The recovery process is ongoing,” Cr Grimble said.

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