Heroic photograph wins award

Heroic photograph wins award

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Evan Collis photograph of Community Emergency Services manager Rik Mills at the Mundaring bushfire in January.

After spending nearly three hours on the fire ground and not capturing anything “particularly eye-catching”, consistent flames and smoke gathering in the distance caught the eye of photographer Evan Collis.

Armadale Fire and Rescue Services station officer and Department of Fire and Emergency Services incident photographer Mr Collis was on the Mundaring bushfire ground in January with Community Emergency Services manager Rik Mills when he captured an amazing photograph of the fire breaking containment lines in the distance.

The photograph was submitted by DFES in this year’s Resilient Australia WA Awards, which saw Mr Collis take out the people’s choice photography award with more than 950 votes.

Thinking back about the day, Mr Collis said although no lives or houses were lost it was a significant fire that cast a huge plume of smoke over the entire Perth metropolitan area like an atom bomb had been dropped.

“Because it was in an area where there wasn’t any streets or roads there was only forestry tracks it was better to go with someone who had been on the fire ground,” he said.

“Photographically it was a very frustrating fire to try and photograph because we couldn’t find where there was any action.

“I had taken a couple of photographs of burnt out machinery and scorched eucalyptus plantation but nothing that was overly exciting or eye catching.

“As we were driving out we could see an area that had a lot of smoke developing and I said to Rik ‘let’s try and get over there’.”

It was in that spot, at about 6.30pm after aircraft assistance had already left the scene, that Mr Collis snapped the photograph titled “It’s Broken Containment Lines”.

Mr Mills was requesting fire crews at the time to immediately attend the section which was heading towards the back of Mundaring.

The winning photograph will now be entered into the National Resilient Australia Awards, which will be announced in November this year.

Armadale Fire and Rescue Services station officer and DFES incident photographer Evan Collis. Photograph – Aaron Van Rongen.