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Scotsburn - A FireReady approach
After a week of warnings about the fire danger that weekend, David and Julia had already decided that they would leave if conditions took to a turn for the worse.
David* had lived in their rented home on a forested ridge for 16 years and knew that it would be virtually indefensible from a severe fire.
On Saturday afternoon, he was monitoring a nearby fire on the FireReady app when he received an alert.
“I was keeping aware of the spread of the fire and reading the signs,” David said.
“When I received the watch and act I realised that the best course of action for us to take was to leave the property.
“I knew it wasn’t far and given the wind conditions we would be literally in the line of fire.”
Within five minutes they had left the property and hoped for the best.
“So that was a positive. We got plenty of warning and sound advice to leave,” David said.
“Once lesson we learned though was that we should have been better prepared in terms of packing what we needed to take away.”
It wasn’t until two days later that they were able to return to the fire ground and find out the state of their home.
A private escort was arranged for a group of affected property owners to be guided back to their homes, with the support of Department of Health and Human Services staff and CFA personnel on hand.
“When we went on the bus trip on the Monday we were bracing for the worst,” David said.
“From reports over the past two days we had been lead to believe the house had been severely damaged.
“But the assistance and support we received was fantastic. The interpretation the CFA was able to give us of the fire’s behaviour at our property was fantastic.
“They basically told us that our home would have been indefensible, that we had done the right thing by leaving. To have that kind of personalised briefing was amazing.”
Luckily the house was damaged but not destroyed.
Fire had entered the roof space, and the ceiling was partially collapsed, but much of their belongings were safe.
“We had actually be preparing the house to move anyway, and many of our items were packaged up in crates,” David said.
“It was a blessing in disguise as the crates protected our belongings from the water damage.
The belongings included an irreplaceable 20-year collection of Ella Fitzgerald music and personally-autographed memorabilia.
“Once we got into the house we realised what an outstanding job the fire crews had done.
“The work and effort they put in to saving the house was amazing. The fire didn’t get into the house itself, only the roof cavity. So apart from the ceiling collapse and water damage it was still recoverable."
(* David and Julia are not he couple's real names as they did not want them used)
Photos: Keith Pakenham, CFA.