It was all systems go in the kitchen on Wednesday morning when a team sprung into action to prepare meals for frontline firefighters battling the Kingiman blaze.
The Shoalhaven RFS Shoalhaven Catering Brigade received a call at 7.30am on Wednesday asking if they were available. By 9.30am, the team was buying supplies to feed more than 300 firefighters and other emergency service personnel.
The team left the kitchen at 9pm on Wednesday, returning at 8am on Thursday morning to feed the hungry firefighters.
Catering Brigade Treasurer Judi Ferguson said 1500 sandwiches were made on Wednesday, and more than 300 would be made on Thursday.
“We do carry some supplies at the Milton RFS shed, but we did have to do a shop yesterday,” she said.
“Today, we are expecting to make about 294 sandwiches in the morning but that will go up by the afternoon, and then we will have to do more for the night.
“Then we will prepare packs for when they go out at 7am in the morning. Firefighters are getting two sandwiches each, they get fruit and they get a cake and a popper, or water.”
Mrs Ferguson said her team was an “integral part” of the emergency response, and praised the 15 members on scene for their hard work during the past 36 hours.
“If we weren’t here to feed them, they would all be having McDonalds or something,” she said.
“This brigade has been going for a long time and it is just part of what we do.”
Describing the scene as “horrifying”, Mrs Ferguson said it was the largest fire she had ever experienced.
She said the sky was “black, and then it was just red” at about 7pm on Wednesday.
“Last night I had never seen anything as scary as the sky out there,” Mrs Ferguson said.
“It was horrifying, absolutely scary.”
The youngest member of the brigade was 45, while the eldest was 85. They will be on scene preparing food until mopping up is complete, which could take weeks.
Mrs Ferguson thanked the many businesses who had “turned up with food”.
“The generosity from the businesses in town has been unbelievable,” she said.
“They have been coming to the door with supplies, and have been absolutely wonderful. They have dropped off pies, sausage rolls, cakes, biscuits, a variety of things.”
Brigade Captain Ingrid Noordermeer said she was “knackered”, but proud of her team.
”We have really worked hard. I am knackered and feel like I need to go to bed, but everything is working really well,” she said.
“This is what we signed up for.”