10 years ago, in the middle of a hot summers day, the sky went black as the night, like someone had literally turned the clock forward.
It was just like this photo.
There was no warning, a policeman just ran into our yard screaming “get out NOW!!!!” … i went outside and there were giant balls of fire flying over our house. A helicopter flew down into our neighbours yard making the house & ground shake, he was trying to get water to dump from our neighbours pool, but couldn’t get down close enough and had to fly away as the fire came throttling towards us at 60kph.
Everything was on fire. I ran out with no shoes on my feet, I threw my dog in the car and my brother and I sped away, leaving my dad at his instructions (i now know he had considered trying to save his home, but sped away not long after he realised it was lost).
We sped out our colder sack that I’d grown up playing cricket in, everything was alight, driving down walkways and through people’s back yards trying to escape the fires, it was chaos, no-one was in charge, the police were terrified themselves and didn’t know where to direct us.
Half of the family was in a different part of Canberra and with the phone lines all down, mum and my sister were cut off from us and didn’t know if we’d made it out for hours and hours.
We spent the night moving from one evacuation centre to the next, moving because the fires kept moving with us, not knowing when it would all end or if anyone would make it out.
We lost our family home with every single possession we had ever owned including all our family photo’s. But we all made it out. Once we’d survived the night we all went back out on the road to deliver supplies, helped cut down dangerous trees and cleared the roads. We all banded together to get through.
The community helped us to rebuild our lives (and gave us some shoes to wear!). Without the kindness of strangers I don’t know what we would have done.
My heart is in agony tonight as the images flood in, as the smoke is palpable in the air. My heart is with all those in the thick of it, we may have lost all our possessions, but we still had our family and our lives. Many may not be so lucky tonight.
May our thoughts, prayers and hearts be with them tonight.