While Gloucester has come out of the seven day bush fire State of Emergency relativity unscathed, it's a journey that's affected all of us; having to leave homes, blankets of heavy smoke and unpredictable road closures.
When the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) declared extreme fire conditions for the Mid Coast region on Tuesday November 12, there was a bit of confusion about what it meant for Gloucester. The State declaration warned of catastrophic danger for the Greater Hunter which caused some people to think this applied to Gloucester, being a part of the Upper Hunter when it comes to State electorates. The confusion was understandable as the RFS will sometimes refer to regions, while other times referring to Local Government Areas (LGAs). When the RFS refers to the Great Hunter, it's talking about the Upper Hunter LGA, whereas Gloucester, in the Mid Coast LGA, sits under North Coast.
Warnings aside, many Gloucester residents heeded the advice, stayed up to date and got prepared. For some it was necessary to leave, while others sat in wait with cars packed, searching for every bit of information they could glean.
The biggest concern was around the fire that was already burning at the Thunderbolts Way in Bretti, north of Gloucester. It was the first to be upgraded to emergency status just before midday on Tuesday. Although initially there weren't major concerns for firefighters on the western edge near Bretti, the issue was with how it was moving east toward Nowendoc and Mount George.
But the winds were unpredictable, moving quickly and swirling.
According to firefighters monitoring the western edge, there were a couple of anxious moments with a couple of fires starting west of the Thunderbolts Way from burning embers.
"We were lucky that we were patrolling past at that time and jumped on them quickly otherwise (Wednesday) would have been a different story with Giro and Kauthi if it got a go on," RFS volunteer, Greg Godde said.
By Wednesday conditions had eased, but the danger wasn't over. The Hillville fire has been a beast for the firies to get a handle on, causing havoc on all fronts only being listed a being control by the RFS over the weekend, while two new fires cropped up near Stroud, south of Gloucester.
One a positive note, the situation that has brought the community together with offers of places to stay and the gathering of supplies for the highly-valued volunteer fire fighters.