A few days ago we had good news: the status of our bushfire has changed from “out of control” to “being controlled”. Isn’t that wonderful? The fire is huge and the struggle for extinguishing is far from over. However, the status change is very encouraging.
So far, the weather has been mild this week. I am sure that the RFS (Rural Fire Service) is grateful for the lower temperatures and the lack of strong winds. They could continue to burn the bush to protect local communities.
So it was a couple of quiet days. If it weren’t for the smoke and the occasional buzz of a helicopter and seeing a fire engine, we wouldn’t even know that a fire is still burning in our bush. It is easy to believe that the crisis is over. Life can become normal again.
But we have more hot weather to deal with. We were advised to continue monitoring the fire and remain prepared.
Last Saturday was a hot and windy day. The RFS warned our nearest town and surrounding villages. The residents were advised to move for the day. Many people must have heeded the warning because when I picked up Gemma-Rose from work it was very quiet in the city. There were hardly any cars on the road. Many companies have not opened or closed prematurely. Maybe we shouldn’t have been in town. If the streets were closed due to a fire, we would have been cut off from home.
We shouldn’t have worried. The bushfire was not rushing towards our local communities, as everyone feared. We were all safe. But it wasn’t other people.
Our phone rang at around 11 p.m. Did we know that some members of our family were at risk from a fire? A quick glance at the fire map showed a bush fire that threatened the villages on the other side of the floodplain in which we live. Houses were threatened by embers that flew from a huge fire burning south of us.
Do you remember how we cleared our house a few weeks ago when the bushfire reached our village on a catastrophic weather day? We packed our cars with people, cats and dogs and a few things and drove into the city where it was safer. As soon as we arrived in town, an emergency warning was issued for our village:
It is too late to leave. Seek protection.
We left just in time.
While we were thinking about what to do next, I received a message from a friend:
If you need to evacuate anywhere, we are here!
Soon the girls and cats were heading south to our friend’s house. They spent the night in a safe place.
It’s hard to believe that this safe place became unsafe last Saturday night. It was up to our friends to face the danger. Some residents fled and others sought shelter as fires blazed through the village where my girls had stayed only two weeks earlier.
I spent the night listening to RFS radio and trying to summarize what was happening. Were our family and friends safe? Would you lose your houses? It was a terrible night. The next morning we heard that some houses had been lost, but there was no loss of life.
In my post Mother on duty, I wrote:
I’m tired of the whole bushfire situation. I just want life to be normal again. I bet the firefighters also want to go back to their normal lives. You must be exhausted.
You know what? I think I stop complaining.
Yes, the firefighters have a much harder time than we do. They are at the forefront and risk their lives. And their families? Imagine the uncertainty. Do the loved ones come back from fire fighting?
My friend’s family is part of the RFS. Because of their willingness to face life-threatening dangers, we are safe. This is our home.
I found this very short video about the RFS on the Win News Facebook page. It includes interviews with my girlfriend and members of her family.
While the incredible work of our firefighters is in the spotlight, we’re going to focus on the stories of the heroes at home tonight. The victims and struggles of the firefighting families – the backbone of those at the front.
Written by WIN news Illawarra on Tuesday, January 7, 2020
There is a sign at the entrance to our village. It says:
Thank you RFS
Every time I pass it I say these words.
In particular, I would like to thank Michael and Helen and their family.
Thank you too, friends, for your prayers for everyone affected by the bushfires. Please continue to pray for those who have lost their lives and for their families.
And thank you for your love.
Love: It connects us with each other, doesn’t it? Because of this, we can do difficult things. That’s why people risk their lives on the front line. How would we survive without love?
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