THE stories of loss stemming from the St Patrick’s Day fires in the south-west of the state are simply heartbreaking.
Our not-too-distant neighbours are continuing to count the cost of losing stock, feed, fences and other farming infrastructure as well as the cost of losing homes and personal belongings in the four fires that started at Hawkesdale, Garvoc, Terang and Camperdown on Saturday and burned a total 14,000 hectares.
That loss had reached – at the latest count – 26 houses, more than 50 sheds and dairies and an estimated stock loss of 10,000 head.
It was the biggest fire – and the most significant impact of a fire – that region has experienced in some years.
The cause was initially tilted as a lightning strike but Victoria Police arson squad investigators have since deemed electrical assets as spark that led to such devastation.
Trees falling on to power lines, power lines snapping and power lines clashing and arcing leading to molten metal falling to the ground sparked the fires.
A push to improve mobile phone service in remote parts of the region was also raised after many residents condemned the capability of telecommunications throughout the emergency.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is due to visit the area this weekend.
People of the Wimmera are, sadly, all too familiar with the impacts fires can cause to homes, businesses and communities.
Our hearts go out to those in the south-west.
There are no winners in the event of a fire – but the community spirit and willingness to help others is what really shines.
Hundreds of firefighters travelled from the Wimmera to the south-west with little hesitation to lend assistance when it was needed most.
They were among countless strike teams working to combat the fires across the earlier stages of this week.
Our Wimmera farmers have also donated hay, or donated their time to deliver it, as those directly impacted work to continue their daily operations around the demands of a post-fire mop up.
As we know, this level of support is needed now and it’s also needed into the coming weeks and months as the south-west begins its long recovery process.
Looking out for each other is vital – during emergencies and during the every day.
Jessica Grimble, editor