09 January, 2020

Wingello Fires - dogged defence

When we pulled back from our home to the shop at 10:30pm, our neighbours remained to defend our homes. They don't want to be named so I will just uses letters to describe them. Once we got to the shop I made a quick call to J, "We're out, defending the shop." "Great, good luck!" was his reply and off he went. Ten seconds at most.
P and J defended the front of the properties whilst S patrolled the back yards putting out embers that had flown across the roofs towards the back gardens. We had left our house and property as well as next door fully soaked,  our pumps remained on and each hose was marked with glow sticks so they could be seen. Later J told me, "We didn't need the glow sticks the night was very bright!"
As we were fighting the rain of red embers from the sky falling around us at the shop, this is what J and P faced:

This was a video taken as one of our fellow villagers was defending his place. As you can see he had his hose going continually. It is easy to say, "He saved his house". It is more incredible when you see what he saved it from.
Doesn't look like much now
This hedge row was on fire and the source of a ground based ember storm the same as what you can see in the video above. this hedge was too far from our house and direct neighbour for our hoses to reach. The neighbour further down, after initially planning to defend, had evacuated earlier in the day with their pump and hoses so J had no help there.
The humble Wheelie Bin. AKA Fire defence gear.
While P was defending here and as far as he could with the hoses, J had to fall back on the Wheelie Bin Defence. While J was using a water filled wheelie bin to put out each of the hedge trees, P was watering everything he could and S was filling the empty wheelie bin.
You can see here why it is so important to have a team of neighbours in your defence. Can you imagine what it would be like trying to do this on your own?
While embers were racing across the ground and in the sky, these three great neighbours were watering everything and watching for embers catching anywhere.
The RFS at one point came by and helped with a shed over the road that had caught fire but seeing that J and P were coping with the situation, had to leave as they had other houses up the road to save.
After many hours of fighting the fires had passed through and the height of the ember attack had settled. The result was a strip of houses saved. Other than al the area to the rear of the houses opposite us that were at the front of the fire - but not the houses - the main part of the homes on our side of the road burned was part of the further neighbour's overgrown hedge trees and J managed to get that out before it escaped and destroyed his house.
If you decide you cannot defend your house, you really should make sure your house is as fully prepared as possible. Clear away as much excess vegetation as possible, remove as many fuel sources and debris. Water everything down as much as possible. If you have fire fighting gear such as hoses or pumps, have it all laid out so your neighbours can quickly use it if needed. The lady further up didn't have hoses but had watered everything down and left as many buckets and containers of water all around the property. J told me this was very helpful when he had the chance to range further down the road to her house.
Our neighbour across the road had done this. We worked with him and knew where all the hoses, water sources and everything else was. Once the ember attack began, we went into his place and turned on all the sprinklers and other defences he had in place. That is how neighbours work together.
What you don't do is say you are going to stay, do nothing to prepare, then leave with your fire fighting gear. Fire does not respect neighbourhood fences. Saving the neighbour's house may save your own.
We tried hard to thank both our neighbours but like everyone in Wingello, they just shrugged it off and said, "It's what we do." We thanked them anyway.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Excellent Advise. Thank you for sharing.