Volunteers help farmers

Daryna ZadvirnaGreat Southern Herald
Blaze Aid volunteers with a fire-affected property owner and Trevor Kowald.
Camera IconBlaze Aid volunteers with a fire-affected property owner and Trevor Kowald. Credit: Shirley Brokenshire

Volunteers from all over Australia and the world have joined Blaze Aid to help rebuild fences at fire-affected farms in Katanning.

The team of 25, including seven backpackers from overseas, was organised by Blaze Aid co-ordinators Ed and Judy Bland from Bridgetown.

Mr Bland said six local fire-affected farms had registered for help, with work in progress on four of them.

“I’m so pleased with everyone, they’re doing an excellent job,” he said.

“We have people from Manjimup and Perth but also some from Victoria.

“And our backpackers are from Belgium, Germany, UK — all over the place — they would’ve been travelling in Perth and Margaret River and obviously just saw the website, made contact and come over.”

The idea to bring Blaze Aid to Katanning was sparked by local man Trevor Kowald, who made the suggestion to Shire of Katanning president Liz Guidera.

“I went to see some farmers the next day after they were hit by the fires and gave them a big hug and they were just shell-shocked at what had happened — young fellas too, with young children,” he said.

“I told them I’d do my best to help.” Mr Bland said the fencing work started this month and was expected to be completed by mid-April.

The volunteers have been camping at the Katanning Clay Target Club, with meals provided by the community.

“The Shire and the community have been very accommodating for the workers,” Mr Bland said.

“We’re just overwhelmed by the support we’ve been given.”

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