Indigo fire ignites calls for better telecommunications

OUT: A fire crew near Barnawartrha extinguishes a remnant of the Indigo Creek bushfire. Emergency authorities declared the ‘all clear’ on Boxing Day. PHOTO: Jamie Kronborg

TELSTRA, Cathy McGowan (MHR, Indi) and Indigo Shire Council are working to secure better telecommunications in the Indigo Valley following the Barnawartha-Indigo Creek bushfire on December 20-21.

Almost 7000 hectares of grass and pastureland, three houses, 19 sheds, machinery, vehicles and more than 1100 sheep, 50 cattle, some horses and countless wildlife destroyed in the fast-moving blaze, which started in 42-degree heat near the Hume Freeway at Barnawartha.

It is thought to have been caused by sparks when a tree limb fell on electrified wires.

The bushfire raced south east along the valley, largely south of Indigo Creek Road, and entered the Chiltern-Mount Pilot national park towards Yackandandah.

Emergency authorities and volunteer firefighters spent the next five days blacking out fire remnants before steady rain on Christmas night and into Boxing Day allowed Emergency Management Victoria to declare ‘all clear’ on the fire-ground.

The blaze caught many in the valley farming community by surprise and the emergency response was tested by what many described as “absolutely terrible” mobile telephone and internet coverage at the peak of the crisis.

Telstra agreed last Wednesday at a community meeting attended by 150 people at Middle Indigo primary school to send an assessor to the valley on Thursday to investigate options to boost coverage during the recovery phase.


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