Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Scary Bushfire drama
So, a bit of 'drama' for the day to get the heart rate pumping...
photo from Yahoo.com.au
I was helping a client-friend with sorting out business paperwork today when the phone rang, but we were unable to find the telephone handset to answer it in time. My client rang back the number of the missed call and then said, "that was strange. I it was a warning call advising that there is a bushfire in the local area."
We didn't think much of it, even though we could see that outside was a 'touch' smokey, but my client had barely hung up the phone when there was a knock at the front door. While my client went to the door and worked out that it was locked and needed to get the keys, I caught glimpse of a uniformed police officer through a nearby window.
My friend hurried back with the keys and opened the door, and the officer advised us that we needed to vacate the area, as a bushfire was heading in our direction and the entire suburb was being instructed to evacuate as soon as possible.
No, the policeman didn't really care that my friend had firefighting equipment because my friend knew he lived on acreage next to a large nature reserve, and was every summer at risk during bushfire season. So, while the policeman moved on to door knock the rest of the neighbourhood, my friend and I madly gathered up all the important business paperwork that we had been working on and threw them into the boot of my car, along with his business laptop and family photo albums.
I left amid the smoke becoming very thick and lots of smoldering embers falling upon us, and drove these 'devastating-to-be-lost' perishables to safety while my friend rounded up his many pets, secured his house, and got the firefighting equipment ready in case he needed to use it protecting his own and his neighbours properties. It was only as I was driving out of the driveway that I could see just how close the bushfire was - in such terrible winds driving the fires to burn faster and furiously - when I saw a helicopter fly almost directly overhead and into the black and red haze ahead of me. And the idiot neighbour had stopped in the middle of the road, blocking exit, so he could video the helicopter dumping its load of water in attempt to dowse the destructive path.
I had no hesitation to drive over someone (I hope, his) front lawn so I could get around him, and exit the estate and get the hell away from the threat that hadn't been there a mere hour and a half earlier when I had arrived.
Lucky I knew all the backroads home, because all the major roads I would normally use were blocked because there wasn't just this major bushfire that the local rural fire brigades were fighting - the evacuation route that residents of Windsor and Richmond usually have to take to get to Penrith were blocked as well, as a separate bushfire of similar size and devastation caused traffic to become extremely (and unusually) heavy.
It was quite freaky being THAT close to an uncontrolled bushfire - it is almost a dark as night, but with a strange orange and red glow in amongst black and dark grey, choking smoke. It is scary having bits of ash and cinders floating down onto your windscreen; but nothing scares you more than feeling how strong the wind is blowing behind that fire in your direction.
Firefighters were able to contain the fire, and later downgraded the area to having to remain on 'alert' but no longer having to evacuate (but not yet able to return if you had evacuated). My friend phoned to let me know that although he can see live flames from his front porch, the fire didn't get too much closer than when I had left.
I can tell you now... when a police officer instructs ME to evacuate, I didn't stand around arguing or questioning!
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