'Dead On Their Feet': Firefighters Battling Exhaustion As Blazes Burn
Volunteer firefighter Greg Walker and his team are battling exhaustion as they continue to combat a devastating blaze south of Taree that they have been fighting for a week now.
The Hillville fire has so far consumed 22,000 hectares and continues to burn.
After a tense day in extreme conditions on Tuesday, the fire was downgraded to a 'watch and act' on Wednesday. However, as the wind changed later that afternoon firefighters were again up against an emergency warning level fire.
Walker and his team have been fighting the fire on and off since last Thursday.
They're dead on their feet, he told AAP, with the team often using their breaks to do what they can to save their own homes.
They know firsthand just what this fire can do.
"I always thought I'd defend my home, but I've seen what this fire is doing," he said.
"I'd be out of here, my kids need me ... a defendable home isn't really defendable at the moment."
As he drives towards the towering flames, Walker says he's felt anxious and nervous, but he also says there's an even worse feeling on the fireground.
"The worst feeling is telling people you can't defend their place because there's not enough of us here and you just get out," he says.
"And then when you do lose a place you have to just move onto the next one."