Story and photos from homeowner Kevin Moloney, first published in the Tarrangower Times, 16 September
The patch of Crown land opposite the South German mine in Maldon is now black and charred from a scrub fire on Saturday 10 September.
Once thick with coffee bush and gorse that had been growing and drying for years, the land of approximately 10 acres now resembles a patchwork of black and green.
Just on lunchtime I was standing in the kitchen of my cottage on South German Road, accusing my wife of burning something in the oven as the smell of smoke filled the house. Guiltless but offended at my accusation, she looked out the front door to a thick cloud of blue smoke blowing across our property.
With fierce southerly winds blustering across the land, the fire had moved through the adjacent acreage within minutes and with flames as high as a three storey building menacingly dancing at our front gate, it was time to act quickly.
I dialled OOO on my mobile – no connection. Then I realised that the phone had connected to the Bluetooth in the car so I ran to the car to speak with the operator. With the sound of a roaring fire above and beside me I somehow managed to get my message across.
Within seconds I heard the welcome siren coming from the CFA in town. Every time I’d heard that sound in the past it made me stop and think that someone’s in strife somewhere – someone like me whose house is now seriously threatened.
The alert siren was quickly followed by the sirens of several fire trucks from both Walmer and Maldon. Fifteen or so firefighters quickly fought back the flames and doused our home and garden which had ignited, averting a potential disaster of property loss.
While the house was under threat, willing neighbours from across the other side of the mine, whom we’d never met, were assisting by loading up our cars with family heirlooms and irreplaceable photos from the walls.
The fire was not of a scale that we have unfortunately seen in Victoria in recent years but its threat to property was none-the-less real. The quick response by our own CFA yielded a great result.
Charred but now somewhat thinned of dangerous vegetation, the land opposite our house will be a reminder of what could have happened without our precious CFA.
And lessons to be learned –
• Don’t just pay lip service to a fire plan (doubling the insurance doesn’t constitute a plan). Make one and know it well.
• Clear dangerous vegetation
• Appreciate the neighbours who were more than willing to help
• Support the CFA at every opportunity
My sincere thanks to CFA and our neighbours for their quick response and concern. Knowing they’re there is reason enough for us to live in Maldon.