As a fire raged in a historic building in the north-western NSW town of Bourke, visiting Australian Defence Force members were able to offer immediate assistance.

The ADF is on the ground as part of a whole-of-government response to the COVID-19 situation across the state.

On September 1, NSW Police asked available ADF members to attend a fire at Diggers on the Darling, a restaurant and reception centre in the old Oxley RSL Club building on Sturt Street.

Five ADF members assisted Fire and Rescue NSW and the NSW Rural Fire Service with hoses, while another group helped police with traffic control.  

Clouds of thick smoke rose from the historic building, which could not be saved. 

The popular venue had a collection of war memorabilia and Indigenous art. 

Commander of Operation COVID-19 Assist in NSW Colonel Warwick Young thanked Joint Task Group 629 members for supporting the fire response. 

“The ADF was in the right place at the right time, and pleased to support state counterparts,” Colonel Young said.

“Operation COVID-19 Assist has covered a lot of ground since it started in March.

“The mission has taken us around the state for a wide range of tasks, from vaccinations, compliance checks and contact tracing, to emergency food delivery and mandatory hotel quarantine.“