Yippee!!!! It’s raining & it has been doing this since last night. The heavy rain has put out the last of the fires near us. The house still smells strongly of smoke, but the sound of the rain is a great comfort.
It’s funny a friend at work told me today how his son was bushwalking down south in the Snowy Mountains at the same time we experienced the fires – they had snow (even tho’ it is the middle of summer here). Australia has really strange weather some times.
We went for a drive north of the town at lunch time today – everything is burnt out & there are still small fires burning by the roadside.
The main fires seem to be several valleys to the north west of us now, and with southerly winds we should be out of trouble from them. There is still a lot of sirens & helicopters around, but the fires are under containment. South of us the fires are still smouldering but nothing too serious.
The house & contents now completely reek of smoke, luckily we can now open the windows to clear it (& there is no more smoke outside). This morning the smoke was so thick that even with all the doors & windows shut there was a smoke haze inside the house. Thankfully, this is clear now.
Good news! The road north & south of town is now open, but there are still smallish fires burning beside the road in both directions.
There are repair crews everywhere along the highway, fixing power cables & phone lines. The heavy smoke from last night & this morning has dissipated and the major fires are burning several valleys to the north west.
All looks good for the town from now on.
Managed to get out of town to the south for church last night, but was afraid I might not be able to get back. As I left the fires were burning to the south of town & along the west side of the highway, right next to the road (quite scary stuff). There were 5 fire trucks there fighting the fires.
When I returned they were still there & the fire was burning with black smoke, I just managed to get through before they closed the road again. So I am not off to work today. At about midnight last night heavy smoke & some ash came over the town, I went out to see if I could find out where it was coming from but it was too thick. The smoke was so heavy you could only see half a car length in front of your face.
This morning it is not so heavy but still quite thick. The road to the north remains closed as does the railway (although there is a 24 hr gang working to open the rail link). Most people in town seem to have stayed home, the community feeling remains strong. We are conscious that the fires still burn not too far away & we cannot remain complacent.
The fire fighters have done an excellent job, people have written thank-you signs to them on sheets & hung them outside their houses.
Yesterday I found out that some people just to the north of town lost their houses, they were right in the bush & did not have any water. Everyone in town really needs a swimming pool for bushfire season as we lost water pressure when the fires were at their worst. We plan to install a pool as soon as we can.
Fires are still burning to the east, north west, south west & west of us – but no immediate threat to us. The air tankers have been water bombing the fires to the east of us all day.
The road to the north is still closed as far as Hawksbury River, and south is open for residents. Many sirens sounding all day & lots of helicopter activity in the air overhead, & one just landed in the oval across from our house to meet some National Parks Fire Brigade personnel – no one is sure why.
The smoke from the fires is very thick & black, which we are told means it is burning very hot. At the moment the wind remains favourable to us, God willing it will stay that way, but we cannot be complacent.
I knew it was a bad sign on Thursday when I went to the Rural Fire Brigade shed in the village & there were five NSW Fire Brigade trucks & their crews just hanging around waiting.
And by Thursday night the fire from the south turned north east & surrounded the village to the south, it went behind houses in the main street, across behind the railway station & cutting across the Pacific Hwy & F3 towards Brooklyn.
This cut off road access for us from the South. Then the fire from the west was heading east towards us on Friday, but the winds changed to southerlies & blew it north of the village at the bottom of the gully to our west along the ridge. The wind then changed to a south easterly & it then went across the gully behind the football field near our house, this also cut the roads to our north completely.
If the winds had not remained SE we would have been in serious trouble. As it was we were very lucky, the fire came up to the back doors of some houses nearby. We were without power for a few days also.
It was amazing how the community pulled together, and the Fire Services were great. I don’t think anyone in town has had a proper sleep for a few days, the smoke hurts your lungs & sinuses quite a bit. Next time I think I will get goggles & breathing mask.
Anyway we have power now & the fires have largely moved north to Brooklyn. Although the Berowra fires are still a concern if they head north to us, they would come across an area already burnt. Although, the Firies say that because everything is so dry they are finding that burnt areas are burning again.
Basically the fires came at us from the south & west, then wrapped around the village on all sides. Luckily for us the winds were very favourable. Not sure how things will go over the next 48 hours – if the weather remains benign we should be OK. But if the weather deteriorates it is in the hands of God.