Former Riders punter Josh Bartel discusses severity of Australian wildfires

Sportscage hosts Derek Taylor and Luc Mullinder had a special guest from Down Under on Friday’s episode heard on 620 CKRM.

Former Roughriders and current BC Lions punter Josh Bartel joined the guys on the show via phone call from Australia to chat about the wildfires in his home country.

Bartel, who lives with his family in Albury-Wodonga, a city nestled in southeastern Australia in between Sydney and Melbourne, talked about how the fires are about an hour northeast of his home with more fires towards the west.

“Depends which way the wind blows. Your visibility is pretty limited since it’s pretty dense smoke,” said Bartel to listeners. “They give you the warning to stay inside.”

“It’s sort of in the high country where you can’t really get access, and sometimes the smoke doesn’t clear and the water bombers can’t get in there to do their job because they have no visibility.”

While his hometown is covered with smoke, he explained to DT and Luc how it’s an all-out effort to control and extinguish the flames with people from across the country pitching in.

Even some of his family are volunteering during this difficult time.

“A lot of the family members are up fighting the fires. My father-in-law is on one of the fire trucks going out and volunteering, while the brother-in-law is out in heavy equipment up there cleaning roads for all the farmers and fire trucks.”

Despite the smoke, he said that his family is safe where they are and they are not planning to evacuate.

He expects the fires will continue to burn anywhere from a couple more weeks to a month.

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