IT takes an army ...
Fighting fires of the magnitude and risk that we've seen in the area in the past couple of weeks requires 24 hour round the clock planning, communication and hard work.
A tireless team of professionals, volunteers and local people have been putting everything into saving homes, properties and towns as fire ravages the Manning, the latest area to feel the heat being Harrington.
A fire broke out in Crowdy Bay National Park on Tuesday afternoon and firefighters were able to keep the blaze under control until a change in conditions late on Wednesday afternoon that saw strong winds, combined with the heat of the day, feed the fire and drive it towards Harrington.
Air base manager at Taree, Malcolm Ireland said yesterday the threat had eased overnight on Wednesday as temperatures dropped and the wind died off, however yesterday's increase in wind activity had all hands on deck early.
After an initial briefing at 8am all helicopters and planes fuelled up and set out.
There are two different planes in action during the effort, one to bomb and the other, a 'Fleur machine', to fly over the fire area with an infrared camera and map out the perimeter as well as the hot spots within that need to be targetted.
"They'll head out first and then come back with the footage for the tactical team to assess before we map out where the bombers are headed," explained Malcolm.
And sometimes it's the simplest methods that are the most effective in these situations, with Malcolm saying they will drop rolls of paper onto tree tops that haven't yet been touched by the fire, as a marker for the bombers to target.
"This can be the easiest thing for them to see and allows them to see exactly where they need to hit."
A major boost to the effort has been the addition of a specially modified bomber that's able to glide across open water, scoop up to three tonnes of water on the run and head straight back into the fire zone.
"The modification on this plane is worth about a million dollars and it's one of only two in Australia," explained bomber pilot Matt Baker who has been flying with the RFS for about three years.
"It means you save so much time, not having to come back and re-fill at the air base, we might fly for two hours at a time and he's able to hit so much in that time."
Harley McKillop, an RFS pilot of 12 years flies the modified plain and was using the river front at Croki for most of his pick-ups this week.
Teams have also been doing their best to enable the airport to run as smoothly as possible in this time, with Malcolm working hard to coordinate landings and take-offs around the usual timetable of REX flights and air ambulance needs.
"It's important to make sure everything runs smoothly, we don't want to interrupt anything and we've been able to ensure that everything has continued with as little disruption as possible," he said.
One of the biggest dangers as the fire threat increased was the need to 'hot refuel' where the planes and helicopters are re-fuelled while still running.
"This is a dangerous operation and we don't like to do it unless we have to, but we ensure that it's performed as safely as possible with a fire crew on stand by as it happens," explained Malcolm.
Malcolm has been volunteering for about 30 years and is the highest ranked volunteer in the RFS.
Crews will remain based in Taree as long as the fire threat continues.