Wangi Wangi community joins with Men's Shed and Lions Club to feed firefighters during New Year's fire threat | photos

SOME residents came carrying trays of home-cooked lasagna or large containers of pasta.

Others baked cakes, cooked rice-based meals, or brought armfuls of store-bought biscuits, chips, fruit and drinks.

And all were united in their appreciation for the firefighters who protected Wangi Wangi from the New Year bushfire.

The blaze ripped through 953 hectares of bushland west of the town and, at its height, threatened properties, including on Donnelly Road, near the intersection with Wangi Road.

For five days, Wangi Wangi Men's Shed, at Wangi Oval, became 'catering central' for local and visiting fire crews.

Wangi Lions Club president Bruce Macfarlane said what started as a request to provide a one-off lunch for hungry Fire and Rescue NSW personnel soon turned into something much bigger.

"The Fire and Rescue guys said they'd really appreciate some sandwiches," Mr Macfarlane said.

"So our members made 80 sandwiches."

The NSW Rural Fire Service's fire control centre at Charmhaven, who managed the firefighting response, then asked the Lions if they could provide a further 60 meals for RFS volunteers.

"We realised we couldn't do that ourselves, with just two hours' notice, so I contacted the Men's Shed president Greg Cross and he instantly agreed to join with us and help get the task done," Mr Macfarlane said.

The next thing they knew, the service clubs were providing breakfast, lunch and dinner for the firefighters.

And although it was the Men's Shed and Wangi Lions Club that were originally tasked with catering for the fireys - sometimes more than 100 of them at one time - locals started turning up with food and other supplies once word of the project spread.

"Initially, we purchased a lot of the food, but on Day 3 we were inundated with people (local residents) coming along with home-cooked lasagna, fried rice meals, and pasta dishes," he said.

"The support we got was overwhelming.

"And businesses, too. We got a call from Rathmines Meats to offer us the use of a cool room.

"People were offering all sorts of things that made life so much easier for us."

Locals also volunteered to help out at the Men's Shed during the operation.

They assisted the service clubs in preparing meals and cleaning up.

Mr Macfarlane said Wangi Wangi had always been a tight-knit community.

"And this just goes to show that people are very aware of coming together when the community needs them."

RFS crews from Awaba and Dora Creek were among the local volunteers who battled the blaze with crews from outside the district.

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