Help for fire-hit farmers

Castlemaine’s Vossloh has donated thousands of dollars worth of steel from its local railway component manufacturing business to help fire-hit farmers at Lexton rebuild fences.
The local business teamed up with Castlemaine’s Leech Transport to deliver the donation after one of Vossloh’s employees decided she wanted to do something to help.
Emily Merlo, human resources and purchasing manager with Vossloh, has a farming background and was particularly aware of just how tough it would be for farmers to lose valuable fencing that may have taken generations to install.
“At Lexton I think they lost about 2000 hectares in the December fire there. They lost farmland and fencing and stock,” Emily said.
She became aware that BlazeAid currently has one of its recovery camps set up at Lexton – “which isn’t all that far from here, only about 100km,” she said.
“I was looking for a way to help and I saw that they could use railway materials as fence posts to help the farmers who have lost their fencing and I thought – yes that’s something we’ve got a lot of.”
Vossloh didn’t hesitate to give Emily’s idea the nod of approval – and neither did Owen Leech, owner of Castlemaine’s Leech Transport, who arrived on site at Vossloh late last week to collect Vossloh’s 150 lengths of donated railway steel – leftovers from railway turnouts – and transport them to Lexton.
Vossloh had also devoted a day’s staff labour to cutting the “scrap steel” – worth many thousands of dollars – into usable lengths to be used as replacement fire resistant fencing posts.
BlazeAid Lexton camp coordinator Bruce Hindson said more than 100 kilometres of fencing had been destroyed across multiple farms at Lexton, although the total damage tally was not yet clear.
“We’ll distribute it and it helps. All contributions like that help farmers re-establish,” Bruce said.
Owen Leech said Castlemaine and surrounds were lucky so far compared to the many who had been devastated by blazes in Victoria and interstate.
“The smoke’s nothing compared to what they’re going through,” he said.
His comment summed up the attitude of the charitable locals.
“You’ve gotta help out don’t you?”

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