Bushfire memories return for couple

The fire on the Coast Rd north of Lennox Head.
The fire on the Coast Rd north of Lennox Head.

WHEN the smell of smoke from a recent fire at Pottsville reached their Bundaleer Rd home, memories of the 2013 New Year's Eve Lennox Head fire came flooding back for Wayne Power and his wife Lisa.

"I've lived through two major fires since I bought this house 25 years ago, but last year it was the closest the flames had ever come to us," Mr Power, 67, recalled.

With flames so near he could hear the roar of the fire that ultimately destroyed more than 700ha of bushland along the coast, Mr Power knew he had to get moving.

While his wife and son were safe at a friend's house at Suffolk Park, Mr Power and a Bundaleer Rd neighbour got together to ensure nearby residents and animals were evacuated.

COMING BACK: Lennox Head deputy captain Shane Smallcombe in Lennox Head where vegetation has started to regrow after a fire swept through the area last year.
COMING BACK: Lennox Head deputy captain Shane Smallcombe in Lennox Head where vegetation has started to regrow after a fire swept through the area last year. Marc Stapelberg

His advice to those who find themselves in the path of a fire is simple: "Do as you are told and get going. It's all about lives, not possessions.

"Fires are unpredictable. There isn't a lot you can do except get going."

The land has not yet recovered from the December 2013 fire and underground peat was burning for months, Mr Power said.

"After the fire we had 15 years earlier we had weeks of rain and that allowed seeds to grow.

"But this time there hasn't been the rain. The land has been a lot slower to recover."

Despite the scale of the fire, Mr Power said he would remain living on his 12 acres of paradise.

"There is always a risk (of fire) but you don't think about it," he said.

"You have to keep living.

"After moving to the country from the city, I could never go back.

"Here I am surrounded by nature, and that's exactly how I like it."

 

Fire threat continues to loom

THE Lennox Head fire, ignited from a lightning strike about 5.30pm on December 29, 2013, burnt more than 738 hectares of scrubland along the Coast Road between Lennox Head and Broken Head, or more than seven square kilometres.

About 80 Rural Fire Service crews were involved in the operation and more than 60 residents were evacuated as the fire spread rapidly through heathland from Lennox toward Broken Head, threatening homes at Linnaeus Estate, Tobin Cl, Blackbutt Lne and Bundaleer Rd.

Smoke rises above Lennox Head as firefighters battle to put backburns in place around the fire burning near the Coast Rd.
Smoke rises above Lennox Head as firefighters battle to put backburns in place around the fire burning near the Coast Rd.

 

While the region has had some rain over the past week, conditions remain dry as 2014 draws to an end.

RFS Far North Coast area manager Inspector Matt Inwood said people needed to be mindful.

"Even though we have had rain over the past week, the previous 18 months have seen extremely dry conditions."

Insp Inwood said the recent rain would do little to alleviate fire dangers this season.

He said the rain also added to the available fuel for fires.

"It's only been patchy rain and we still have conditions above 100 in the Keetch Byram Drought Index, which is still high.

"We can't be complacent and there is still a long summer ahead."

Mr Inwood said the Lennox Head fires attracted a few new members to the RFS but the service always needed volunteers.

For more on volunteering or preparing your Bushfire Survival Plan, visit: http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au

Lennox resident Wayne Power on his property where vegetation has started to grow back after the fire last year.
Lennox resident Wayne Power on his property where vegetation has started to grow back after the fire last year. Marc Stapelberg

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