It was an eventful day here in Tonga. The team was in the radio room working away when Oly VK5XDX says “can anyone hear crackling”. They look outside and see an approaching scrub fire. Very quickly the fire brigade was called, the antennas dropped to make way for the tender and preparations were made to warn off ember attack. As the team are all from Australia thoughts immediately turned to the worst, given VK’s history of bush fires. This however was very different as there was a grassy paddock the other side of the green tropical foliage next to our accommodation blocks. When the fire reached that it stopped and burned itself out.
It was made all the more stressful as Grant VK5GR (team leader) was off site picking up his family from the airport plus food supplies for the crew and couldnt be reached. He returned to the site in disarray and a lot of very nervous people at the point of the fire’s closest approach.
In hindsight the threat was probably pretty low given the way the fire was burning, but it set the team on edge for sure. We are all safe and well now and returning to normal operations. The only antenna that probably wont go back up is the 6m beam (we had planned on ending the EME sessions as of Sunday anyway.) the 30m 4sq and 40m 4sq are restored as is the HexBeam. We will see you on the air!