We’re sitting here under a smoky sky on the 4th day of this out-of-control bushfire disaster. Helicopters are passing overhead, fire trucks keep disappearing into the bush at the end of the road… and we remain safe.

“Another update!” Imogen shouts.

Two more local villages have been added to those in immediate danger. Our village has been on that list for three days now. We’re getting used to waiting, all prepared to leave at a moment’s notice. We don’t feel anxious despite the frenetic activity we can view from our house. We are surrounded by fire vehicles and fighters, and trust if there is a change in the situation we will be warned to evacuate in plenty of time.

A change in conditions… Everything depends so much on the weather. At the moment the air is still and it’s not too hot. But the temperature is predicted to rise and we are expecting winds that might blow the fire south towards us.

All night long the fire fighters have been out there in the bush. They went down the trails where we run on a normal day, and deeper into the national park. They’ve been backburning for hours.

Andy had the opportunity to speak to a fire fighter last night, as he was refilling his water tank just along the road from us.

“Conditions are too good for backburning. No wind. Our fires keep going out.” Ironic, isn’t it?

Fighting fire with fire. That’s the main reason the village is full of smoke this morning. It looks like the fire is right here on our doorstep but it’s not. Last night it was a couple of kilometres away burning in an inaccessible gully.

Two kilometres. That’s a long way and it’s also no distance at all. I can run 2 km in a matter of a few minutes. A fire can run much faster than me. But it has to get past all those fire fighters and the back burnt area. In a way it’s quite comforting to be at the centre of the action. Of course there are lots of ‘centres of action’. The fire is huge, over 12000 hectares in size. It’s being fought on all sides. But we are most concerned with what’s going on our road…

Yesterday fire truck after fire truck drove past our house to the nearby fire trails that wind through the bush. Crews have come from all over NSW to help save our area. Andy met one fire fighter who was from Illawong. (I think that’s north, part of Sydney.) He had a map of our local bush, where he was working, and was trying to make sense of it all. He didn’t like the look of all the inaccessible gullies. It seems to me to be an extra act of courage going out to fight a fire in a completely unknown environment.

It’s not only the firefighters out in the field who are remarkable. A woman walked past our house late yesterday evening: “Are the firefighters still at the park?”

“They’ve just headed back into the bush,” Andy replied. “You just missed them.”

“I’m worried about the visiting crews,” she said. “I don’t know if they’ve had any dinner. I think I’ll walk down the track a way and see if I can find anyone.”

Dinner? Dinner is very important when you’ve been working hard all day.

We’d just had our own dinner. Earlier we’d been told to prepare to leave, but after hearing no more news, we started cooking. Children need feeding. Life has to go on.

Last night we slept while fire trucks continued to go back and forth along our road. This morning as soon as we woke, we were back on the computer checking updates. The threat to our village had been decreased overnight. Good news but with a warning: Be vigilant, the situation might change as the day progresses. There’s a long way to go.

So we are sitting here under a heavy sky, in a house the smoke has penetrated, glad we are still here and grateful for the work of the firefighters. Without them we would have no chance at all.

I’ve one more unbelievable story of courage to share before I finish. One of the firefighters told Andy about a group of specialised fire fighters, the RAFT (not sure what that stands for.) These men and women are parachuting into the bush, shovel in hand, so they can dig fire breaks by hand.

“How do they get out?” I asked.

“They walk out and then they are picked up by their crew.”

Don’t you think that’s rather remarkable?

When this is all over I’m going to become a firefighter. If they don’t want me out in the field, I can always make dinners for the visiting crews. A couple of my young adults are going to join me. They used to be St John Ambulance volunteers. They’re used to helping out. I think this is something we ought to do. This is our community, our home and we need to be able to defend it, because bushfires are always going to be a threat where we live.  

Some people might wonder why we want to live here. “It’s safer in town,” they might say. But this is our home. It is beautiful and we love it. 

And that's also why we're staying with our home for the moment. We can't just leave our community and our house until we know there is nothing more we can do.

We've just heard a neighbouring village is being evacuated. An evacuation centre has been set up in town. Please continue to pray.

Image: not our local bush but typical of what it probably will look like once the fire goes out.

Lake Mountain after Bushfire by Peter Campbell, (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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  1. Sue, you know I'm in prayer for all of you... for everyone in any possible danger. But I'm telling you again. It's my own way of being a firefighter too, I suppose......

    1. Nancy,

      You are a wonderful fire fighter. Thank you! I am so grateful for all the many prayer messages you have left for me over the past couple of days. It has been so good discovering them, and feeling we're not alone but that you are with us in thought and prayer.

      May God bless you!

  2. Sue, I'm fighting with prayer as well. I'm on Our Lady's team, and we have recruited many angels. Just finished a rosary for you......Be safe and may God protect all of you and your homes. xoxoxo Thanks for the updates, as we are so worried. Your area even made my local town newspaper.

    1. Patricia,

      You're on Our Lady's team with all the angels... how can we lose? Actually I'm sure your prayers have made a huge difference today. We were expecting hot temperatures and winds that would have blown the fire further towards us. Instead it has been a calm day and the firefighters were able to deepen the containment lines. So far these lines are secure and we remain safe. Deteriorating weather is again forecast for tomorrow and Wednesday, so we need to keep vigilant. One day at a time! I'm hoping for some good sleep tonight. It's day 4 already. Can't believe the fire has been burning so long. I keep getting the days in a muddle. It's hard when we have no normal routine.

      Our area made it into your local paper? I think it's amazing that our small part of the world is in the news headlines. You now know exactly where we live! btw, I found out the fire started about 6 or 7 kms away when a power line fell in gusty winds. Amazing the damage from one small incident.

      God bless!

  3. I do hope that there will be an end to the fires soon. Is that normal for October? Keeping you in our prayers.

    1. Eva,

      This is unusual for October. It isn't even summer yet. We have over a month more of spring. The bushfire season has come much earlier than normal. Where we live it is normal for spring to be windy though. The wind was responsible for spreading the fire so quickly.

      Thank you so much for your prayers. They are very much appreciated.

      God bless!

  4. Replies
    1. Pam,

      Thank you so much for praying. It's been a difficult few days, and I am grateful for everyone's concern and prayers.

      Your comment has reminded me about your project. Please keep me informed. I am a bit distracted at the moment but I am still very much interested in joining in with your idea.

      God bless!

  5. Sue, my goodness! I am praying for you and your family and for all of those involved in fighting this fire. You all are very brave!

    On a side note, I am always fascinated about the difference in our seasons. Here we are in fall now. In fact, it got so cold in our house last night that I am thinking it won't be too long before we need to put the heat on at night. It is so interesting that you have Christmas in summer. Once you are out of harm's way, I'd love to hear more about Christmas traditions and songs, etc. since many of ours involve snow.

    God's blessings to you and your family, your neighbors, and all of the firefighters!
    : )

    1. Stephanie,

      Thank you so much for your prayers. They are appreciated. It is now day 6 of the fire and we woke to better news this morning. The fire is now 'being controlled' and not 'out of control'. We even had a few drops of rain, but need much more. I hope it's a better day today.

      What a great idea about sharing our Christmas traditions. I suspect that regardless of the weather, our traditions are very similar because we all celebrate in union with the Church, but the little details might be interesting to compare. I'll think more about that!

      May God bless you too!

  6. Oh my Sue, I've been praying for you and your family as well as all of the firefighters and those in the fire's path. Your picture is scary indeed. Also praying that Mother Mary will cover all of you under her mantle!

    1. Noreen,

      Thank you for praying for us and the firefighters. They are doing an unbelievable job. What would we do without them?

      We had a scary moment yesterday afternoon when our fire was upgraded to emergency level. Embers were landing in one village and creating spot fires. But the residents and firefighters got on top of that very quickly. I'd actually laid out long sleeved and legged clothes, boots and gloves for everyone just in case we needed to change quickly and get outside to extinguish spot fires in our own village. Dense smoke appeared and we thought the wind was blowing in our direction again. Then suddenly that emergency was over. We're hoping today will be a good day. So far it's not too hot and the sky is overcast (with clouds not smoke!)

      God bless you!

    2. Mama Mary is shielding you :). I will keep you in my prayers!

  7. Hang in there!!Prayers for you all, Down Under! Continuing to pray for you, Sue.

    1. Chris,

      We're hanging in there! It's so hard to sleep at night knowing a fire is burning just a short way through the bush, so I'm tired, but at least we are still here... and that means our house is too!

      Thank you for your prayers. I'm praying for you all too.


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