Lessons learnt…

Lessons learnt…

…FROM OUR CLOSE CALL WITH ONE OF THE MANY RECENT THE BUSH FIRES

Dale and I watched, from our balcony, the Bundoora bush fire rapidly growing in size and heading in the direction of our home.

Our first thoughts were that we’ll be fine as the CFA, the MFB and the helicopters will arrive soon. However, with the strong winds behind the flames, the pace of the fire’s advance was frightening. It looked as if the fire would miss our place as the direction of the smoke was being blown further to the east. As it gained in size and momentum, Dale and I packed an overnight bag each. We grabbed toiletries, a change of clothes, passports, our much loved Labrador and headed to the local shopping centre. We were the first ones in our court to depart. Down at the shops we chatted with another couple who had been very much affected by the Ash Wednesday fires. They shared with us the fact that they had made up a list in preparation for such an emergency and had packed their car well in advance of deciding to evacuate. Dale and I then thought through what we had packed up and lamented that what we grabbed in our rush to exit was pretty incomplete if our home did catch fire.

This couple also put us onto the emergency.vic phone app, which is a fantastic source of information and advice.

We watched the fire fighting brigades arrive in force. We watched the phone app advise a compulsory evacuation instruction for everyone in neighbouring streets and ours. This then progressed to a ‘too late leave’ advice; ‘please stay indoors although safety cannot be guaranteed’. There was another three-generation family, nearby us at the shops, having a terrible breakdown as the dad had refused to leave. That family were in tears and were difficult to console, as they feared the worst. 

Dale caught up with our neighbours who showed her footage on their phones from their house security cameras of the flames roaring along the park side of our court. At that stage we also feared the worst. Tears were shed.

Thankfully our prayers were answered and the fantastic job done by the CFA, MFB and helicopters succeeded in containing the fires to the opposite side of the road opposite our house. There had been a few spot fires on our side of the road – the front hedge bordering our place and the neighbour’s caught alight as did a few other plants and bark chips from flying embers. These spot fires were promptly extinguished by the fire crews.

We were eventually allowed back on foot as no cars were permitted on the roads at that stage. It was a very anxious time as we walked into our court not knowing what might have happened.

Some time later the CFA volunteers took a rest on our neighbour’s front, seat height, retaining wall. We took them refreshments and our thanks. We heard stories of how late leavers had, for example, temporarily parked cars on their hoses in their state of panic. 

Our advice is to complete the attached checklist now rather than risk leaving it until it’s needed. Have it ready. You just don’t think clearly in such an emergency situation. Pack the car early and get out of the way of the trained fire fighters early. Get the emergency.vic app downloaded to your phones.

We are very thankful that our home was saved and our hearts go out to the many people that have not been as fortunate as us. Tragic situations have been and are continuing to occur. The journey we have been through has given us a far better understanding of the horror and reality of bush fires and appreciation of the heroic work done by the fire fighters.

Dale and John