There has been an overwhelming outpouring of love and support in the Lucindale community after a fire ripped through nearby prairies and resulted in the death of a Nationwide Fire Department volunteer.
A fire in Eland Road, Coles, was first reported on Wednesday January 19 at 1.06pm.
It destroyed 3,877 hectares of blue gum plantations and native forests in four days and the destruction resulted in the death of CFS volunteer Louise Hincks.
Ms Hincks died when a falling tree struck her and another CFS volunteer as they worked near their vehicle on the fire grounds on Friday January 21.
CFS Chief Officer Mark Jones praised the professionalism and dedication of the volunteers who remained on the fire grounds when they heard the terrible news of Ms Hinck’s death.
“Louise has paid the ultimate price that all emergency responders risk when they step in and put themselves in harm’s way to protect others,” he said.
“We have lost a dedicated volunteer, South Australia has lost a valued member of the community and its family has lost a dedicated wife and mother.
“Louise was a much loved member of the SCF and will forever be in our hearts.”
An honor guard was formed for Ms Hincks along Naracoorte Road as her body was returned to her family in Adelaide on Monday January 24.
About 40 local CFS volunteers and staff were the first to pay their respects to a family member lost along the journey.
The members embraced and comforted each other as Louise’s body was escorted away by members of her Happy Valley Brigade Team.
CFS Region 5 Regional Commander Ray Jackson joined the Naracoorte crew to pay tribute to the beloved volunteer and friend.
He said Louise’s death was like “the loss of a family member to the organization.”
“The SCF is a huge big family, so it gave people here the opportunity to go and pay homage to one of our beloved members and to be able to make sure people had the opportunity to show and to honor someone who had given so much to so many in the organization and the community,” he said.
“Once we found out when Louise was being sent back to her family, our people wanted to know if there was anything we could do for her, and we thought that was the best way to do it.
“Our crews did it in the most respectful and best way possible. It really comes from the heart.
“Everyone is so keen to make sure we’re still supporting the family.
“We are deeply honored to have this opportunity to do so.”
He said the high turnout was proof of the mark Ms Hincks left on the organization and its members.
“It shows how well known and loved Louise was,” he said.
“It’s a great indicator of the respect she has had within the organization.
“The notice was short, but they wanted to take time out of their day to make sure they could show that respect.”
Naracoorte was just one of dozens of CFS crew members who paid tribute to their fallen colleague.
The other SCF volunteer who was involved in the accident was taken to hospital with serious injuries but is expected to make a full recovery.
His wife said he remained upbeat and in good spirits despite the severity of his injuries.
After four days of hard work by hundreds of staff and volunteers, the fire was finally brought under control on Sunday, January 23.
On Facebook, the Lucindale CFS group shared that they were overwhelmed by the generosity of the Lucindale and surrounding community.
“Whether the support comes from food donations, a hotel or deli donation, a kind word, a hug, or just a smile, the difference it makes for CFS staff is beyond words,” the post read.
“So thank you to everyone who helped anyway, it means the world to us.”
CFS brigades across South Australia sounded their station sirens simultaneously on Tuesday evening January 25 in honor of deceased firefighter Louise Hinck.
In a fantastic show of support, the Lucindale-area school closed its grounds and facilities, including the library and pool, to community members so they could house CFS and SES teams while they helped fight the fire.
There were approximately 50 to 80 emergency services personnel who used several areas of the school as their home base while in the area.
On Friday, January 21, the Lucindale Deli received a $200 donation from a member of the Naracoorte community to help feed the volunteers.
Deli owners Brad Pascoe and his partner Katlyn Kendrick decided to match the donation.
They then appealed for help from the community and had to cap donations when they reached $2,200.
Mr Pascoe said knowing they could get free food from the deli helped volunteers come and go to the scene of the fire.
The grocery store will continue to feed cleanup crews and people remaining at the fire site for the next few days and the remaining money will be donated to a Go Fund Me which has been set up for Ms Hincks’ family , which had raised more than $23,000 on Tuesday. , January 25.
Naracoorte Foodland Carter’s Retail also helped feed firefighters and donated lots of fresh fruit.
On Monday January 24, CFS confirmed that the threat of the fire had diminished and reminded people to be careful in the area and to be aware of reduced visibility due to smoke.
South African police confirmed they had not determined how the fire started, but they do not believe it was suspicious.