Yesterday the sound of dozens of sirens cut through the air, one after another. They continued for a very long time. They indicated that something was wrong very close to home. Smoke rising above the trees at the bush at the end of our road confirmed our suspicions. A bushfire had broken out and it wasn't far away.
The fire started in the next village along the road from us, 5 minutes’ drive away. Fortunately for us the gusty winds blew the fire in a south-eastly direction and not directly south where we are. We followed the fire’s progress all day. The wind changed direction during the afternoon and the fire moved well away as it headed north. But while we were safe, others weren’t. Others villages were evacuated and some property was lost.
We woke this morning, to a cooler day. The wind had dropped and though we still kept an eye on bushfire updates, we relaxed, thinking the danger was well and truly over for us.
Then around midday, we heard the fire was once again heading our way. “Watch and act” was the warning we received. Act… We were told to put our bush fire survival plan into place as a precaution. We had the choice to prepare our home for a possible fire and then stay to defend it, or pack up and leave the area. With my husband Andy away from home (he was at work), I made the decision to leave our home and take everyone to town where it is safer.
So we loaded up our van, putting three protesting cats in their cat carriers and one guinea pig in a cardboard box. And we drove to town. With a basket full of food we headed for the park. We chose a shady spot and placed all the animals side by side on the grass where they could admire the view of the lake. Then we enjoyed a picnic while tuning into the latest RFS bushfire report every now and then via Imogen’s mobile phone. We also kept in touch with Andy who was driving home from work.
Every now and then someone stopped at our picnic table to find out why four pets were enjoying a visit to the park. “Oh yes… the fires…” People in town are going about their everyday business, aware that firefighters are rushing off to the villages, but unconcerned for their own safety. They are in no danger. Life goes on as normal for them.That’s the good thing about living in town. I sometimes wonder why we chose to move away.
Anyway, Andy left work and headed straight home where he and my son Callum drenched the house with water, just in case a fire appeared. They intended to stay with the house and only leave if an emergency evacuation order went out.
Back at the park, the cats were protesting yet again, and we were getting cold as evening approached. We knew we couldn’t sit at the park much longer so, after consulting with Andy, we made the decision to return home. We wanted to be together.
We’ve been home an hour or so now. Our village is blanketed in smoke, a helicopter passes overhead every now and then and firefighters have disappeared down the fire trail at the end of our road a couple of times, assessing the situation. I think they may be backburning again, in an attempt to contain the fire.
All seems calm at the moment. We didn’t unpack the van so we can leave quickly if we need to. I hope it doesn’t come to that. I am too tired to worry any more today. Worry? That’s not the right word. It’s upsetting to leave a house wondering if everything will soon be gone. But as long as we are all together as a family, none of that matters.
While the fire isn’t here, it is burning somewhere else and other people are in danger. Every time it looks good for us, someone else in another direction has to face the possibility they will lose their home. One of us has to deal with the danger and the stress. That’s a strange situation to have to deal with.
Looking at the reports I feel we have nothing to complain about. The people up in the Mountains are in a much worse position than us.
But the fire fighters are working hard. And people are praying. A lot of people are praying. We’ve received so many messages on Facebook today. Thank you so much. I really do appreciate everyone’s concern.
And I'm hoping that tomorrow will be a better day.