DOUG May experienced one of the most stressful days of his life yesterday, with his property only narrowly missing the Blampied fires.
“We had a call early in the afternoon, probably around 2pm that there was a fire near Kangaroo Hills Road, and a little bit later we saw smoke that was fanned by the north-westerly wind,” Mr May said.
“Local CFA trucks came right around the area within half an hour and aircraft was soon above dropping water.”
Last night Mr May said he was still on watch, with a change expected for the winds to move to the south-west, which had potential to blow smoke and embers towards his property.
“We considered leaving at one point in the afternoon, but we weren’t quite at that stage,” he said.
“We had to assess the situation, and we were reasonably confident that it wouldn’t get to our property.
“We kept our kids indoors, because we knew we wouldn’t evacuate. They were concerned, but we tried to calm things down – there wasn’t any point getting worked up.”
Mr May said they had every hose and pump going trying to keep their property safe, with fires damaging their neighbour’s and reaching within one kilometre of the property.
“Irrespective of the fire, you’re always concerned on days like that – you always keep your eyes pealed and look to the horizon,” he said.
“We’re very grateful to the CFA for responding so quickly.”
Another Blampied resident, environmental lawyer and organic farmer Steph Hodgins-May said the day was extremely exhausting.
“My sister works for triple zero, so she was the first one to notify me in the early afternoon,” Ms Hodgins-May said.
“It was up at Kangaroo Hills Road and it was OK, but before you knew it we had another call and it had crossed the road and and was heading towards a few properties.
“Within five minutes it just escalated and became very stressful.”
With the fire closer to family properties, Ms Hodgins-May quickly moved her animals before going to family properties to help protect them from the fire.
“It was quite phenomenal how quickly it grew and the speed it moved,” she said.
“We live on a hill – and I can never recall winds as harsh as they were yesterday.”
At seven o’clock last night, Ms Hodgins-May was still closely monitoring the CFA website for further updates.
“It really is a wake-up call. There’s so much dry grass in the area and shrubbery, I need to be more prepared,” she said.
“I’m definitely going to write my to-do list now and what to pack.
“You saw the CFA volunteers working and felt helpless to an extent – I’m now looking to volunteer with the CFA.”
Ms Hodgins-May said she wasn’t being complacent after the threats had passed.
“I’m relieved that it wasn’t worse than what it actually is – we were lucky the CFA acted so quickly and no houses were lost.”