BlazeAid makes presence felt throughout region

Helping hand: BlazeAid volunteers made their presence felt throughout the rebuilding efforts following the June storm. file photograph

Michelle Slater

Farming charity BlazeAid expects to be in the region until the end of the year helping property owners recover from the magnitude of June’s storm damage within the Latrobe City area.\

The most recent spate of COVID lockdowns put a halt on the local volunteer effort, with a smattering recently returning to the Yinnar Recreation Reserve base camp.

BlazeAid Yinnar camp coordinator Luke van der Meulen was on the ground after the district was ravaged by the 2019 bushfires.

Back then, there were 30 properties listed for help rebuilding fences.

Mr van der Meulen said this time they had 158 properties on the books within the Latrobe City boundary and another 10 in South Gippsland.

“It’s a much bigger job than last time and this time we are working into the depth of winter,” Mr van der Meulen said.

“Given the amount of properties we have, we hope to get a lot of units out every day to get the jobs behind us. This will be a big fix.”

Mr van der Meulen said much of the work entailed removing fallen trees from infrastructure and fixing damaged fences from flooding and savage storms.

He said they were on the hunt to borrow four-wheel drive tractors to access wet paddocks or small excavators to tackle the jobs at hand.

“In some places, it’s acres and acres of huge trees that have come down. It’s like pick up sticks with tree upon tree uprooted,” he said.

Mr van der Meulen said he expected about 20 volunteers to return to base camp once further COVID restrictions had eased, and encouraged locals to jump aboard.

He said previous to the July lockdowns, many of the volunteers had come from all over Victoria, with some coming from South Australia.

To volunteer, donate machinery, supplies, or to billet volunteers, email