I live in an area that is classified as “Very High Risk” by the Tasmanian Fire Service and so each year I get a letter with the words, Bushfire: Prepare Act Survive in giant red letters on the front of the envelope.
This letter arrives at the beginning of the fire season and so acts as a timely reminder to check that the sprinklers on the roof are still working and to do all the other myriad jobs that are easy to put off in the winter.
We had a bushfire through here in March 1992 and if you have ever experienced a bushfire you know that it colours every summer that follows and you also know, the true meaning of the phrase “get your shit together” because, oh my word internet, a bushfire certainly cures constipation.
I scanned these photos to show you the total devastation that “my” bushfire caused. The trees on our property are full size gum trees and the fire was crowning in the tops of the trees and the fire ball was massive. Trees were just exploding, the sky was black, the noise was incredible and I have never been so scared in all of my life.
The Spouse and I were young and fit and this fire came through two years before I smashed my knee, so I was able to run around madly beating out the flames as they came too close to my brand new chook pen and our converted bus, which held all our worldy possessions.
Twenty years on and the bush has grown back so thickly that I can’t even get near the now abandoned chook pen to take a photo. It is amazing how quickly the bush will reclaim an area if it is just left alone to do its thing.
Every summer since the fire of 1992 we have managed to avoid a bushfire up here. We have had some very close calls and some anxious watching of the horizon. We have had hot embers fall on us from a fire 30 kilometres away and there have been some scary days where we have been blanketed in smoke without any idea of where that smoke was coming from.
The Spouse attached sprinklers to the roof about ten years ago and each summer they get a test run and any bits that are broken are replaced. If a fire does come through, the sprinklers might not be any good for very long but they also might douse that one little ember that could cause my house to catch alight.
We also have a generator so that we can still get water when the power fails, but on a day like that horrible day in January when there were fires everywhere and the conditions were classed as Catastrophic, we would just leave. As I am under no illusions about my ability to fight a bushfire these days.
We are also so lucky that we have the Tas Fire Service website which received over ten million hits in January and did not crash once. When we had our bushfire there was no warning at all. We smelt some smoke, The Spouse went to investigate, Mum called the fire brigade and then bang, less than twenty minutes later we were on fire.
I bumped into the Chief of our local fire brigade down at the school the other day and the firies will be coming up here to do a burn off once the fire season is over and we have had some rain. So I am sitting here thankful it is a cooler day and I am praying to my favourite deity that we will all get through the rest of the fire season unscathed.
Because honestly internet I really don’t want to be taking any more photos like this one.