Tag: Mr Clark
Stories of survival are emerging after intense bushfires swept across Victoria, destroying at least 43 properties and burning hundreds of thousands of hectares of land, mainly in the state’s east.
- Graham Shenton had to drive though 8 kilometres of flames to escape the fire near Sarsfield
- Shaun MacDonell fought the fire at Goongerah only to find his wife and children were under threat at nearby Orbost
- Graham Clark is isolated on his property at Club Terrace after fire went through, leaving the roads closed
The New Year’s Eve blazes destroyed properties across the east of the state.
The Federal Government has agreed to bring in military aircraft and naval ships at the request of the Victorian Government.
At Sarsfield, north-east of Bairnsdale, local police officer Graham Shenton told ABC Gippsland of his dramatic escape from his property after everything in the valley near his home “just lit up in five minutes”.
When a massive ember storm went over the top of his house, he thought the fire had skipped over him, but he was wrong.
Sergeant Shenton, a police officer for 19 years, had a plan to defend his property.
But that plan was useless when at least 15 spot fires began burning on his property.
He said he made the wrong decision, despite knowing the devastation fires could cause.
“But when the water goes off and then the power goes off, and then you’ve got spot fires starting all around you, you can’t do anything about it,” he said.
“The sky dropped down, it was like fire falling out of the sky and it lit up everything between me and the river, and everything burned.”
Sergeant Shenton described driving through “8 kilometres of inferno” as he tried to make his way out on local roads “with 30 metres of flames on both sides of me. It was just a very poor decision to stay and I would never stay again. It was just a stupid decision.
“Everything you think you know about fire, when it comes, it just makes its own mind up.”
Property looks like ‘surface of the moon’
As India and Shaun MacDonell worked frantically to save their family home at Goongerah in eastern Victoria they were quickly surrounded by flames.
Shaun MacDonell described what happened when the fire took off.
“Spot fires were coming from the west, landing to the east [of the house] and then burning back towards us,” said Mr MacDonell.
“All the fires were going up the top of the hill where the house was.”
Mr MacDonell and his daughter, India, 19, were reasonably well prepared with pumps, water and an underground fire shelter.
But the fire came as close to the house as it could without destroying it.
They lost other buildings on the 40-hectare property.
After the fire passed, Mr MacDonell said his property looked like ” the surface of the moon”.
But the danger was not over yet.
Ms MacDonell said her mum and two younger sisters left their home for nearby Orbost three days before the fire hit.
Now that fire is headed toward Orbost and Mr MacDonell can’t get there to help.
Yesterday he and his daughter drove 10 kilometres south, clearing trees as they went.
They turned around when there were too many trees to remove.
Now they are isolated on their property, though luckily they still have water and food.
‘The sky dropped down’
One man in Mallacoota posted a public message on Facebook asking people to send their addresses so he could check if their properties were still standing.
While many were told their homes had been spared, others were not so lucky.
One house in Mirrabooka Road was reduced to rubble.
Andrew Parker has lived in Mallacoota for 53 years.
He evacuated from his home at 4:00am because “the skyline was on fire”.
At 6:00am there was a bit of daylight, but by 7:00am it was completely dark again.
“Going into town … I couldn’t see from one side of the street to the other. It was quite mind boggling,” he said.
“There’s no way out and it’s been a rather horrific day.”
Somehow his house survived but Mr Parker’s friend’s caravan, which was parked on his property, was destroyed.
His three siblings, who also live in Mallacoota, lost their homes.
“I can’t believe it — my next door neighbour’s standing on the verandah having a smoke,” he said.
Isolated for five days at Club Terrace
Graham Clark lives at Club Terrace, north of the Princes Freeway, between Orbost and Mallacoota.
He said there was total devastation in his town.
He fought with a neighbour to defend against an ember attack, the likes of which he has never seen before despite being a former CFA officer.
“We put the embers out as they hit the ground and we beat them all, thank God,” Mr Clark said.
He could not quite believe his home was still standing, such was the devastation of the blaze.
“The fire swept through with incredible intensity and burnt everything in its path,” he said.
Despite the immediate crisis being over, Mr Clark will be sitting tight for the next week or so, with the town cut off after huge trees fell down over the road.
The power is out and he cannot travel anywhere to get food.
“So I’ve got to sit it out for five days. I have water that I can get from a stream,” he said.
“But I don’t have any food in my cupboards, so you know my neighbour will probably invite me over for a meal at night time with their generator and, you know, you just battle on.”
More bushfire coverage:
- Live blog: Fires in NSW and Victoria still burning as communities prepare to assess damage
- Ferocious blaze rips through properties in idyllic Southern Highlands west of Sydney
- Alpine towns evacuate as firefighters deal with ‘double-edge sword’ of rain
- Bright orange, then pitch black as Qantas flight hits turbulence in fire’s cloud
- ‘Just magnificent’: Farmer fights back tears as ‘army of angels’ convoy arrives
- Eden’s wharf offered a refuge from fire, then police warned it wasn’t safe
- Farmers grapple with how to dispose of livestock killed in bushfires
- Morrison denies Facebook post an advertisement as he announces fires recovery agency
- NSW fires blanket Canberra in thick smoke, leading to orange skies and poor air quality
- Coming back from holidays? Here’s what you need to know about the Australian bushfires