A year has passed since the devastating February 2022 bushfires that tore through Narrogin East and parts of the Shire of Wickepin. The terrifying blaze gutted 18,000ha of farmland, destroying sheds, fence lines and livestock. “Whilst devastating, we give thanks that there was no loss of human life,” Shire of Narrogin president Leigh Ballard said at the Narrogin Australia Day event on January 26. “The fire brought out the best in our community from the first responders through to the community groups and individuals that assisted not just during the event but in the following weeks and months during the recovery.” For five days, fire tore through the bush, turning green and vegetated areas into moonscape and cropping fields to ash. Mr Ballard said about 175 volunteers helped during the bushfires, clocking up 5280 volunteer hours. “In addition, the volunteers were required to monitor the fire around the clock especially with the strong wind conditions and extreme temperatures to ensure there were no further flare-ups,” he said. The sight, sounds and smell of a bushfire are hard to forget. While it raged over the land, razing property and threatening lives, the fire couldn’t touch the strong community spirit of the southern wheatbelt, and the show of strength of a supportive community is remembered 12 months on. “As a society we need people who inspire us and local volunteers make a positive difference big and small,” Mr Ballard said. Many people in the Shire of Narrogin became volunteers when the fire broke out. People supplied food and water to firefighters and places were found for volunteers from nearby shires to stay. Time, money and resources were donated and a host of auxiliary workers supported the local fireys, State Emergency Service, Department of Fire and Emergency Services and the Parks and Wildlife Service personnel as they fought the flames. When the smoke had cleared, there were volunteers still. BlazeAid arrived to help pull down damaged fences and re-establish boundary lines. The Inaugural Cuballing Winter Ball raised $40,000 for BlazeAid, and a quiz night at the Cuballing Tavern raised a further $3000 tto help farming families impacted by the fires. On Australia Day, the Narrogin Bushfire Brigade was recognised for its outstanding efforts. Chief bushfire control officer Pip Porter accepted the active citizenship award with deputy chiefs Vern Gibson and Stu Moyses by his side. “We are honoured and privileged to receive this award,” Mr Porter said, “The brigade is made up of dedicated firefighters and auxiliary members. We all live in a great community, and this was evident from the help and support we received in the Narrogin East bushfire nearly a year ago. I’d like to thank the fire control officers who all stood up and put in a massive and at times a very heartbreaking effort.” In his acceptance speech Mr Porter thanked all the volunteers and emergency service personnel who fought the fire. He also thanked the Shire of Narrogin, the Highbury Disaster Fund Committee, BlazeAid, and local businesses, community groups and individuals for their fundraising effort and support. Rather than talk about the fire, Mr Porter talked about the people who came together to fight it. Mr Porter hadn’t sat back down for long before he was again called upon, this time to receive the Shire of Narrogin citizen of the year award. “His ability to manage the firefighters in the 2022 East Narrogin bush fire was extraordinary,” Mr Ballard said. The Narrogin East bushfire was a terrible, extraordinary force. The fire has gone, and what remains is an extraordinary community.