Volunteer turns 50 at firefront, daughter arranges cake

Andrew Nisbet
Andrew Nisbet, aka Sugar.

A volunteer firefighter has marked his 50th birthday battling the Great Pine Tier blaze in the Central Highlands.

Andrew Nisbet – affectionately known as Sugar – wasn’t expecting a celebration when he walked into the Great Lake Hotel last Monday.

But staff and other volunteers had produced an ice-cream cake with candles, and plenty of attention for the Great Lake local.

“His daughter contacted me and told me he’d be in for dinner, so I made sure he’d have a cake,” Great Lake Hotel owner Kaylee Hattinger said.

“We made a fuss of him.

“It’s the least we could do, when he’s out there keeping us safe.

“He’ll never forget that for his 50th he was out fighting fires and protecting the community, and somebody remembered.”

Mr Nisbet is one of 120 firefighters who have been fed by the Great Lake Hotel for the past 16 days, as they battle the mammoth 50,000-hectare Great Pine Tier bushfire.

Staff have been making 120 packed lunches, and 120 hot dinners, every day for more than two weeks.

“We serve dinner from 4.30pm to the last person who comes through – that’s usually about 10.30pm, but we have been serving meals until 2.30am,” Ms Hattinger said.

“They’re hungry and they need food.

“Everyone’s tired, but while they’re out there working and battling we’re going to keep going and make them as welcome as possible.

“And not a firefighter has to pay for a drink in this pub. We’re giving them beers. They’re not paying.”

Fires statewide broke their containment lines on Sunday, February 3, spurred by the predicted hot, windy conditions.

Several new blazes also took hold, with one starting from an unattended campfire at Binalong Bay.

At the Central Plateau, the TFS has warned Reynolds Neck and Liawenee are very high risk areas, with Brandum, Breona and Doctors Point at advice level.

In the south, Geeveston, Port Huon, and Cairns Bay are at very high risk.

Waterloo, Surges Bay, Brooks Bay, Glendevie, and Police Point are also at very high risk.

Out west, Brittons Swamp, near Edith Creek, Irishtown and Scotchtown, is at very high risk, with smoke and ash visible around Smithton, Stanley, Hellyer, Boat Harbour and Wynyard.

For the latest updates, see the Tasmania Fire Service website.

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