Originally written by Spectator-Observer Partnership
SOUTHERN Grampians Shire Mayor, Cr Don Robertson, had publicly thanked firemen for stopping a fire that he said had the potential to have wiped out Hamilton’s central business district.
“It could have been a lot worse Christmas for everyone had not they acted so promptly,” Cr Robertson said on Sunday.
“They did a magnificent job in confining it to one store.”
He was delighted with how the emergencies services and Hamilton people generally reacted to the fire.
“There was a tremendous co-ordination, and a good demonstration of the training of the abilities of the various fire brigades.
“It was an excellent show of strength of the Country Fire Authority (CFA) in that the Hamilton Fire Brigade was able to call for help and muster such resources.”
He especially referred to the $1.2 million ladder platform which was brought from Ballarat, and the $50,000 thermal imaging camera from Portland which picked out where ‘hot spots’ were.
“You see stuff like that and you can see what can be done if you have enough money.”
His initial relief was that no-one had been hurt in the fire.
He felt deep sympathy with Target Country employees who found themselves without a job.
“It’s a time when they are coming into the Christmas season which is their peak trade,” Cr Robertson.
He also praised the efforts of police, State Emergency Service (SES), ambulance and Red Cross personnel for their efforts.
“They all had an important part to play on Friday night,” he added.
He was delighted how the Municipal Emergency Response Plan had worked. The plan co-ordinates the activities of the various emergency services.
“The pre-planning did work,” he emphasised.
Cr Robertson first heard about the fire about 10pm Friday though his CFA connections, although he wasn’t directly involved in the firefighting.
“Basically it was urban firefighters who were called in. Structural fires are not my area of expertise,” he said. “I am more used to running grass fires.”
He said it was early days but he thought the Target building would have to be demolished – and there were also concerns about the double brick wall which joined the Health on Gray shop.
Shire personnel were involved Saturday morning putting up signs and barricades.
Cr Robertson said the SES were involved in sandbagging the flow of water that streamed down to IGA and Trev’s – as well as providing floodlighting for the fires.