Sunday, December 20, 2009


Ok so I never really imagined that this would happen to US!
It was a kind of quiet day, Mum and I went into town to drop Ayala and Sarah off at their jobs and did a few jobs ourselves, we headed home. The Murray Goulburn representative was coming today so we had to be back before 10:30 AM. But at 9:30 there was really no hurry. We stopped to take some photos of the big harvesting machines working in a paddock, and the piles of grain the had already collected.
We got back home at about 10 and cleaned up. The rep was arriving at 11. All was going smoothly. The rep arrived and I sat at the computer for a while, checking emails and Facebook before going to my bedroom with a book to find a comfy chair. There was really no need for my brother and I to be around while the rep was there. They just had to talk over money figures and plans for the dairy. We take these opportunities to read or sleep in my brother's case.
My book was really interesting (it was actually my sister's book from the library but since she wasn't there I thought I would read it). But I got interrupted by the door swinging open from the wind, when it got windy the door had a nasty habit of swinging open and the cats would get inside. I got up and locked it (that's the only way to keep it shut). About an hour my Mum knocked on the door. She told me there was a fire, it was nothing out of the ordinary there had been many times where there had been fires around but nothing ever that affected us. I expected that my Mum would tell me that Dad was going to help and we had to get water bottles ready or something like that. Where? is the normal question when that statement is said. The normal answer is usually the name of a place near here but too far from our house to be of worry.

This wasn't a normal answer! "Pine Mountain" is the big hill right in front of our house! There is the Murray river between us and there but that comfort was short lived when we heard the man on the radio said "On the NSW side of the river at Pine Mountain.". That meant that the fire was raging just about 10 to 20 kilometers North/West of us at speeds of 110 to 114 kilometers an hour with a strong wind blowing South/East. Complicated I know. But it means that the fire was going at about 110 kph right at us! That's when the adrenaline kicked in. Running on scared we filled as many buckets as we could with water, drenched as much of the house as we could until the power went out. Every now and again I would look up and watch the cloud of smoke getting closer.

By this time we had all donned masks, hats, gloves, overalls, cotton shirts and work boots. We looked like we were getting ready to enter a war zone. The wind kept blowing my hat off so I took it off. My hair by the end of the day was a mess from the wind.

Woolen blankets, computers, photos and water found their way to the cars and into the dairy, the place we had chosen to flee to just in case the fire took out the house.

The wind was slightly to our right so the first fire front flew past us by about 500 meters and just missed our neighbor's house, then fled up and over the hill and was gone, leaving the sides still burning. The wind picked up the little fires and turned them into a second fire front, picking up speed, it was closer this time but still missed us by heaps. It jumped the main road just outside our boundary and into our neighbor's paddock. The wind changed direction slightly and burnt through one of our paddocks filled with 100 hay bales and 300 silage. It was also wide enough to catch our neighbor's house. It burnt to the ground. There was nothing anyone could have done as the fire was too fierce.

With the fire still burning round the edges, it came down the bank and invaded another of our paddocks. Dad filled up his spray tank and went to take it on. He managed to stop it but it got away again coming closer by the minutes. Thankfully the paddock that it invaded next was all almost dirt, it fed on the stubble for about 200 or 300 meters stopping short 100 meters from our house. Fire trucks and cars came and went all day, I lost count. There were helicopters and airplanes going over almost constantly, getting water and dumping it on the fire fronts. Hundreds of tankers and emergency cars went by. We gave glasses of water out to men I have never met. I kept thinking it was amazing what people who really cared would do for you. One of our tractors had stopped, out of fuel, in the middle of the paddock two days previous, and a neighbor we hadn't met before came with his tractor and without being asked put a fire break around it.

That was the worst of it. We were on alert the rest of the evening as it was about 5 PM by this time. My Dad and brother filled Dad's spray tank up again and went putting out smoldering logs and fence posts.
We went for a drive around the district and it was totally amazing the amount of ground that got burnt.
We went to Tintaldra to see if we could go and get Ayala and Sarah from town but there was a road block and once you went through it you were not allowed back for anything! Ayala and Sarah stayed the night with friends and we drove out to get them in the morning, the road block was still there but since the fire danger had passed mostly we were allowed in and out because we lived there.
We were out of power for 2 days. My grandparents came with a generator for the house but we had to wait all day to get one for the dairy but ended up getting it hooked up only to unhook it again because the power came back on.
I have heaps of photos that I would like to put on here but I don't really have time right now.
I'll write more later today or tomorrow. That was not the end of the story. It still isn't as I m writing this, the fire, although presents no threat to us is still burning a little while away.
I have to go, till next time I post.


Emii said...

Wow!!! I've never been in a fire.. or near one, for that matter...can't wait for more:))


Katherine Alice said...

Well that was the first one I have ever been in. I have heard about being in them and 'almost' been in heaps but have never been in the path of one yet.
I'll start posting photos as soon as possible.

Cassie said...

Praise God that you are all Okay!!! It sounds like quite an experience! Definitely a story that you can one day tell your children!
I'd love to hear more and see pictures. You've had an exciting month!
Gruss Gott!
Your forever friend,