A dairy farmer who fought horrific 500m fireballs from his family’s property has made a desperate plea to Prime Minister Scott Morrison for help.
Craig Calvert spent 13 hours on Monday and Tuesday fighting off an inferno to save his family at Wiseleigh, Victoria – and faces another deadly battle on Saturday.
Mr Calvert asked Prime Minister Scott Morrison to learn how to manage the bush properly to prevent devastating bushfires.
‘Mr Morrison, please, throw your gloves on, come down here and see me,’ Mr Calvert told Sunrise.
‘I’ve got an extensive network who can help with knowledge of the bush, how the Australian environment is actually meant to run. It doesn’t run on paperwork.’
PLEA FOR HELP
Dairy Farmer Craig Culvert says Bruthen in East Gippsland needs:
* A Telstra generator at Bruthen so people don’t lose communications
* Supplies – especially feed for livestock
* Generators for the dairies
* Help with potential health issues caused by hundreds of dead cattle
* Better land management to prevent catastrophic fires in future
He pleaded with the Prime Minister to ‘step up’ and not to let people die in the future, or to let history repeat itself.
The exhausted Country Fire Authority volunteer made his impassioned plea after fighting off a massive bushfire with his father, Peter, at his dairy farm for 13 hours over Monday night and Tuesday.
He had barely seven hours of sleep in the week since the nightmare began, and told Daily Mail Australia he couldn’t remember what day it was now or when the fire had been.
As he fought the inferno he watched horrific fireballs from 50m to 500m wide jump across a gully.
The first wave of fire ignited eucalyptus gas in the air above the trees, burning like white flame in mid-air without touching the canopy.
Smoke billows on Thursdsay from East Gippsland, Victoria. The regions dairy farms have been devastated. Farmer Craig Culvert made a desperate plea to the Prime Minister to change land management practices to save lives and prevent future catastrophe
Craig Culvert at his family’s dairy farm at Wiseleigh near the Tambo River, Victoria, on Friday. Mr Culvert has had just seven hours sleep since Monday as he tries to battle the flames with more severe fire weather and 40C temperatures forecast for Saturday
Eucalyptus trees contain highly flammable eucalyptus oil which evaporates into the air on hot days providing a gas as explosive as jet fuel.
The second round came through the canopy – then the ground fire came.
Mr Calvert had to retreat three or four times as he fought the horror blaze and saved his farm.
He said every home in a valley called Dirty Hollow had been destroyed and that it was lucky nobody was killed.
Mr Calvert, a sixth generation farmer whose family have been in the area for 169 years, said the bush had been managed properly for 40,000 years by Aboriginal people who didn’t even have modern equipment.
Ominous smoke filled the sky as the fire approached the dairy on Monday evening
‘If they can do it, we can do it … help us out,’ he said on Friday in his passionate plea to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Mr Calvert said loggers warned of disaster 40 years ago when the bush was ‘locked up’ and wasn’t properly prepared for fire risk.
The exhausted volunteer and his family were preparing on Friday for a repeat of dangerous fire conditions with 40C temperatures forecast for Saturday.
Mr Calvert’s wife Celeste headed in to the nearby town of Bruthen to stock up on supplies for Craig to defend the property on Saturday.
Celeste and the couple’s four daughters are now safely in the town of Bairnsdale.
The view towards Craig Calvert’s grandmother’s house. Craig and the CFA volunteers saved both the houses by fighting the unimaginable fires over Monday night and Tuesday
Craig with his wife Celeste (far right) and their four daughters. Celeste and the girls are now safe with family in nearby Bairnsdale ahead of fire danger conditions forecast for Saturday
Mr Calvert said the area urgently needs more supplies especially feed for livestock.
He implored Telstra to bring a generator to the nearby town of Bruthen so the surrounding areas don’t lose communications during Saturday’s forecast fire weather.
Daily Mail Australia has asked Telstra for a response.
Climate protesters halted hazard reduction burns which reduce dangerous fuel loads in the Mossiface area near Mr Culvert’s dairy farm in September.
Gippsland’s Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Beth Roberts told local radio station TRFM that Forest Fire Management Victoria crews had been planning to ignite controlled burns on September 4.
The inferno continued to turn East Gippsland to ash and smoke on Thursday
They were stopped by protesters who entered the bush and refused to leave.
‘These burns are strategic asset protection burns, intended to protect human life, property and community assets from summer bushfires,’ Dr Roberts told TRFM.
Victoria Police were called to the incident, Dr Roberts said.
The catastrophic bushfires that have razed eastern Australia since October are not without precedent.
Almost four million hectares were burnt to the ground in the summer of 2003 causing devastating loss of livestock, bushland, and property across five states, with the Australian Capital Territory worst affected.
A Parliamentary inquiry into the fires heard there had been grossly inadequate hazard reduction burning for too long, and that local knowledge and experience was being ignored by bureaucrats.
The inquiry made 59 recommendations many of which focused on hazard reduction and co-ordination between states and agencies to improve land management and prevention strategies.