RAAF Base East Sale continues its role in the east Gippsland fire grounds

Parks Victoria rangers, Australian Army engineers from 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment, Republic of Fiji Military Forces soldiers and Papua New Guinea Defence Force soldiers sit on a temporary medium girder bridge installed at Buchan Caves. Photos: LSIS Kieren Whiteley, courtesy Defence
Parks Victoria rangers, Australian Army engineers from 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment, Republic of Fiji Military Forces soldiers and Papua New Guinea Defence Force soldiers sit on a temporary medium girder bridge installed at Buchan Caves. Photos: LSIS Kieren Whiteley, courtesy Defence

WHILE the bushfire threat has significantly eased in many areas, the Australian Defence Force efforts continue across the firegrounds under Operation Bushfire Assist 19-20.

The ADF is working alongside government and civilian agencies at all levels in support to the firefighting, relief and recovery effort by providing humanitarian, transport and other assistance such as aviation, route clearance, logistics, veterinary assistance, health services, engineering support and accommodation.

About 5100 ADF personnel are supporting the operation, including about 1200 reservists.

In addition to them, almost 200 international military personnel are supporting the bushfire response.

Republic of Fiji Military Forces have been clearing the Yalmy Rd track north of Orbost through minor logging, and using machinery to clear culverts.

Fijian forces established firebreaks near Cape Conran, and Papua New Guinea Defence Force personnel have been working as part of Joint Task Force 646 near Omeo.

The Papua New Guinean personnel have maintained engineering efforts to clear level three roads, which include non-sealed roads, access to fire containment lines and non-commercial traffic routes.

Papua New Guinea Defence Force soldier Private Bigiding Deri in front of a temporary medium girder bridge installed by PNGDF, Republic of Fiji Military Forces and Australian Defence Force engineers at Buchan Caves.

Papua New Guinea Defence Force soldier Private Bigiding Deri in front of a temporary medium girder bridge installed by PNGDF, Republic of Fiji Military Forces and Australian Defence Force engineers at Buchan Caves.

The contingent has been working on a memorial at Swifts Creek State School, and helping repair damaged fencing.

Last week, the ADF installed two military modular bridges (medium girder bridges) at Buchan following damage sustained to two bridges in the Buchan Caves area.

The bridges were built by Australian, Fijian and Papua New Guinean Defence Force engineers, and will allow traffic flow until a permanent bridging solution is developed by Parks Victoria.

It is anticipated the bridges will remain in place until Easter, supporting access and the local tourism industry.

Military efforts remain committed to the recovery of community infrastructure, with a particular focus on re-establishing road networks, power services and water infrastructure.

Papua New Guinean cultural events were held in Omeo at the weekend, with about 40 members of the Melbourne Papuan New Guinea community joining the military contingent for traditional meals and fellowship.

The events were used to farewell the Papua New Guinean contingent, expected to begin travelling home from Monday.

On Saturday, 32 United States firefighters and 28 Canadian firefighters were farewelled before they left for home.

The final four United States Air Force personnel at RAAF Base, East Sale, supporting air load operations, departed for Guam on Sunday.

Operation Bushfire Assist teams will continue to support road and track clearances in the alpine region, including with renewed focus on Surveyor's Creek Track and Walker's Track.

Planning teams have begun coordination with local and state authorities for the removal of affected koalas from Gelantipy to Healesville.

The requirement for ADF to deliver water and fodder has ceased as road access now enables contractors and suppliers access to remote farms and communities.

RAAF Base, East Sale, continues as the central hub for the Defence response in southern areas.

Australian Army soldier Corporal Sam Brown reaches for a plank of wood to rest a temporary medium girder bridge on at Buchan Caves.

Australian Army soldier Corporal Sam Brown reaches for a plank of wood to rest a temporary medium girder bridge on at Buchan Caves.

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