Fire Friday after a week of sleepless nights

The aftermath, so far: Areas of Dees Road, Belbora, east of Gloucester after the fire has gone through. Photo: Dave Keen
The aftermath, so far: Areas of Dees Road, Belbora, east of Gloucester after the fire has gone through. Photo: Dave Keen

It’s now Friday (September 29), it’s been almost a week of sleepless nights and it’s been really hard to concentrate on anything else.

What we have learned is that to survive this situation you need to take one day at a time; you need to understand what the RFS can and cannot do and you need to take responsibility for your safety.

As a journalist, I write about the importance of having a fire survival plan and leading up to this event, I thought I knew what that meant.

But I was wrong. The plan we had was to leave. Sounds simple enough; just pack up the car and go.

“Where are we going to go?” asked my 12-year-old daughter on the Sunday morning, as she was packing her prized possessions.

I didn’t know what to tell her. We had a plan to leave and in my head I just assumed we would go to a hotel, but at this stage it wasn’t time to go. 

“It depends,” was all I could tell her because I didn’t know when we should leave.

The RFS website tells you to know when you need to leave, but I don’t know what that means. So I asked the volunteers, who were fighting the fire, to tell me when to go.

“We can’t tell you to leave,” was the answer.

Where does that leave us?

Well, we have to be onto it. We need to keep an eye out and make sure we know where the fire is. The only way to do that is to watch it on the ground. The RFS are hard working people, but they can’t do everything.

That’s were having good neighbours is the best protection a person can have.

We live on a road where are nearest neighbour is several kilometres away, but my husband and I grew up in cities where we knew the people who lived on our street, so we carried that with us to Belbora.

The relationships we have built and continue to build as new people buy land on the road, are only getting stronger as we join together everyday this fire is burning to make sure everyone is okay, to offer help to anyone who needs it and to have a drink, toasting the fires that burn around us.

At the time this story was written, the fire had burnt more than 800 hectares, threatened several structures, destroyed fencing and is still burning.

Smoldering: Fire lures in the tree stumps and under fallen trees. Photo: Dave Keen

Smoldering: Fire lures in the tree stumps and under fallen trees. Photo: Dave Keen

We don’t know if the fire will reach us or how long it will burn for as it changes from day to day and hour to hour. 

At the other ends of the fire, other people are now being affected as the fire spreads at its own pace, travelling wherever it wants.

We can talk about how it started. Sometimes we really want to know. The RFS crews say they don’t know and they may never know. The most important thing at this stage is to ensure that everyone is okay, including the fire fighters who put themselves in the middle of this sometimes unpredictable beast, to protect us.

Thank you may never be enough for everyone who is working to make sure this fire continues to be controlled, but without all of them, this story may end very differently.