‘ARMAGEDDON’: Winery’s dicey encounter
WITH the memories of last year's devastating bushfire season in her mind, Cheryl Hutchings was paralysed when a fast-moving fire threatened her property on Thursday night.
Notified a neighbouring property's permitted hazard reduction burn had gone rogue, the Savina Lane Wines owner calmly packed a bag of her prized possessions while her husband, Brad, set off to defend the boundary.
"It came so quickly, one minute we were heading into bed and the next the neighbour was ringing to say it was heading our way," Mrs Hutchings said.
"I thought my cottage was gone."
A change in wind gusts sent the fire Savina Lane's way, which was a "total accident" according to Mrs Hutchings.
Three rural fire and three urban brigades from the Granite Belt were called to defend the property's cottage, vineyard and cellar door.
"Had it got away without the efforts of the young fellows, it would have got into our pine forest and it would have been armageddon here," she said.
"The smoke was much thicker (than last year); this was so thick you could hardly breath."
Mrs Hutchings said she was grateful grass at the property's fence line had been mowed, fearful of the outcome otherwise.
"We keep our grass very short; the fire was slowed dramatically and gave (the firefighters) a chance to save it," she said.
"Our fence line is 50 meters from our house and that is where it stopped."
Glen Aplin Rural Fire Service first officer Ian Townsend said it was a timely reminder of the devastation bushfires can have.
"People have got to learn to maintain their own places and not leave it," Mr Townsend said.
"They can slash their boundaries and things like that and try and give access to their blocks a bit better.
"There are more people doing their own (burns) which is a good thing. They've got to maintain their own fuel load."
Looking out at her scorched yard, Mrs Hutchings said she was thankful for the swift action of local firefighters.
"No lives were lost, no property was lost, so at the end of the day, we're all thanking our lucky stars," she said.
"People need to take more care with their burn offs, but you need to be aware things can happen."