Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Facing a Fire Unlike Any Other

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Facing a Fire Unlike Any Other

Article excerpt

Byline: Adam Hourigan adam.hourigan@dailyexaminer.com.au

HELEN Tyas Tunggal has mopped her Angourie home's wooden deck twice, and still the residue of Monday's fire remains.

And two days after the fires sent a shockwave through the town, it's only the gentle drops of rain that tease the village that convinces her to unpack valuables from the back of her car.

"I'd say it was the scariest, definitely the worst I've seen," she said.

"We dodged a bullet this time, without the fireys here, holy dooley."

It's not the first time that fires have threatened the village, and Ms Tyas Tunggal is well versed in preparing for fires, even making a trip to Yamba to collect more tennis balls to help block and fill the gutters.

With all of the loose furniture and items stacked away and bathtubs full of water -- "we lost water pressure last time so we all filled up," she was as well prepared as you could be for the approaching blaze.

But this one was different. After being told to enact their fire plans on Monday morning, and then quickly told they had two hours to get out, a breakout blaze that closed Angourie Rd left many residents trapped in the village, left to protect the many homes that faced the front.

"I wasn't scared to stay, because I've been in a lot of fires before, but it came so quickly," she said.

"We're used to watching the fires come slowly over the ridges over several days, you can sit at night and see it come up slowly through the national park, and it's never got beyond Mara Creek.

"The other evening we were watching it come up the coast, which we're not used to, and there was this boom which we thought was the toilets, but it turned out to be the bridge at Mara Creek.

"The speed it came, it was really different, and how seriously everyone was taking it, you just knew."

After clocking 17km of walking making ready theirs and five other houses in the neighbourhood, night fell, and they waited.

And while a line of fire trucks faced the front, the embers started flying across the sky, killing any hope they had of sleep for the night. …

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