We have had a beautiful warm start to Spring. On Friday Mother Nature provided us with another magical day but there was a hint of smoke in the air which is nothing unusual as we live with National Park at our back door & the Rural Fire Service often operates controlled burning of the undergrowth approaching Summer as hazard control. By 10am the smoke had increased & a friend from a neighbouring street dropped by to inform us that police had closed off his street & this was not a planned fire. I tuned into our local radio station & heard that the strong winds were to turn Southerly by 1pm & blow the fire towards our homes.
I started to gather together photos, sentimental keepsakes like vases & trinkets that belonged to my Grandmother's, our children's favourite toys & drawings. I placed everything at the front door ready to go into the car for a quick exit.
I then began to hose down the house, block down pipes & fill roof gutters with water. I placed wet towels & blankets against doors & any gaps in our newly built but unfinished house extension. By now the Southerly had hit filling the air thick with smoke & our street had firefighters wandering around looking for the supposedly well marked water hydrants on the road in front of our house. My husband now started to realise that the situation had gone from unpredictable to being one which needed sharp action. By this time the police had closed off the road into our suburb & stopped all traffic from entering our area. My neighbour came flying up the street in her car telling us that she had heard the fire had jumped it's containment line & we should all get out. I checked my mobile phone & the Rural Fire Service had sent a message a hour earlier telling us to evacuate. My hubby finally managed to grab our cat & headed for the car while I did some last minute wetting down of our property. It felt so wrong to drive away from our home but knew we shouldn't put ourselves at risk any longer, we needed to be with our children who were already at my parent's house twenty minutes away. As we drove out of our street we noticed police going from door to door telling people to evacuate. We passed dozens of fire trucks & firefighters standing in groups preparing themselves to start battle with the approaching flames.
People were scurrying around desperately with garden hoses in a last ditched attempt to wet down their property.
We waited at my parents house glued to the radio as they kept mentioning our street & that property protection was now happening there. At 9pm I had been informed by friends that people were being allowed back into the area so I said to my husband that he should stay with the kids & I'd go back just to check on things & then come back & join them spending the night away from home.
As I approached home the air was so thick with smoke & I could hardly see ahead of me as the headlights of my car seemed to make it worse. Firetrucks lined the my street & the whole of the hill behind the houses across the road was glowing orange with flames. Our home was OK & still standing phew a bit relief! After speaking with the Firies & being assured that it was under control & they had lit this line of fire to contain the large one that burned out of control through 90 hectares of dry bushland. I took a bit of convincing & thanked them for saving everyone's homes, then hung around for a couple of hours wetting the house down & checking no spot fires had started around our property.
It felt harder to drive away the second time seeing the hills aglow lighting up the night, knowing how close it had come to taking our home but tiredness was overwhelming me & I feel into a deep sleep on the mattress on my parent's floor.
Our little community seems so much stronger from this experience, we were all looking out for each other & texting to check on people's safety.
We also got to realise just how many wonderful people there are around here who put themselves at risk on the frontline as part of our Volunteer Fire Service & these same people are the ones you see patrolling our surf beaches & maintaining our National Park. Thankyou to our wonderful Firies & to great friends.