Pillars of Pine

Pillars of Pine

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Well, they say that ‘whatever can go wrong, will go wrong’.  It certainly seems as if it is our time for things to go wrong.

As you know, we are in the process of moving, and part of that involves sorting, packing, and getting rid of the rubbish.  We organised an incinerator, and for the past few weeks, have been busily burning off rubbish, old school books, broken furniture, etc. 

On Tuesday, we continued this process, and as usual, we carefully put on only a little at a time.  Once the fire had died down and was only smouldering, we stepped inside for a break.  I was tending to a few things inside, when I stopped short, as I smelled smoke, and thought that it was a little too much smoke for our small fire.  Then came the terrified scream from my 15 year-old:  ‘The yard is on fire!’  It sure was.  Racing outside, we saw that the fire had somehow escaped from the incinerator, and not only was the grass burning, but the pine tree as well.  As we grabbed water buckets, blankets, and whatever else we could find, we realised very quickly that there was no way we would stop this fire on our own (Orson – where were you?  Of course, by the time he put on his fire gear, I guess it would have been too late, anyway – he does have a few issues in that area (another story for later blog post!)). 

I ran inside and called the fire brigade and was just giving them directions when my daughter screamed, ‘it’s about to get the house!’  At that point, it was time to simply grab what we could, and run.  ‘Everyone to the bus!’   I grabbed my bag, my phone, and of course, my laptop (!) and was just running out the door, when my husband rang, and was merrily leaving a message on the answering machine – ‘Hi, how are you?  Anyone there?’ I grabbed the phone, screamed into it, ‘The yard and house are on fire – we’re getting out  - now -  I have my mobile!’, and slammed the phone down in his ear.  I haven’t actually asked him yet what he did or thought at that moment – must do that….  Poor guy, at the time he was 2000kms away, so unable to do anything but wait.

By the time we got to the cars, the smoke was so thick we could hardly see or breathe, and we all piled in to take off.  ‘Have we got everyone?’ I screamed, and my sixteen year old, who was busily still pouring water on the fire, thought, ‘Wait – you don’t have me’!  and dropped her bucket and ran.  I only found out afterwards that she had just dumped a heap of water over a bush that is right next to the house, and it had just caught on fire.  That simple act saved the house, for that bush lies directly under a wooden beam, which, if it had caught, would have certainly set the roof ablaze. 

With all the girls in the car, we called out for my son, not knowing where he was.  He, too, was busy pouring water over other items close to the house, when all of a sudden he realised that a tyre was burning right next to our other car, and the car was very close to catching fire itself.  He ran, jumped in the car, and drove straight past me and down the driveway.  With that, we slammed the bus door shut, and flew out the driveway as well, heading for the neighbour’s house.

The neighbours (who live about 1 km away), had looked up to see billowing smoke.  Fortunately, they had just fitted fire units to their utes, and quickly put them into action.  We met in their driveway, I shouted that everyone was out and safe, and they took off.  Their actions also saved our house, for they were able to spray water over the house and anything close to it.  I rang the fire dept again, and they said yes, a truck was on the way.

In the end, we actually five or six trucks from all the various local towns, as well as several police cars and water trucks.  The flames rose around 30 feet in the air, and they reported exploding fridges, sheds filled with flames, and burning cars.  But, they saved the house.  In a couple of hours, the fire was contained, and the trucks were able to leave.  They certainly were not happy with us for burning off our rubbish, and gave me and my son a terrible serving of abuse.  I could understand their frustration, but we were not burning in fire-ban season, it was not windy when we lit the fire, we had taken steps to ensure the area around was clear and we only burned in the incinerator.  Still, the police say that someone may need a ‘rap over the knuckles’, whatever that may mean – I guess charges may be coming my way – we shall see.

There used to be a heap of trees and bushes between here and that line of trees.

Apparently, the heat that came out of these fridges was unbelievable.
Jessica's car - first wiped out by a kangaroo, and now by fire!

Later that day and all through the night, we checked for hot spots and wandered around with buckets of water, and the neighbours continued to check with their ute as well.  During the night, shock began to set in, and understandably, there were several tummy upsets, headaches and lack of sleep.  By morning, I found I was short of breath and struggling to stand – it had certainly been an experience.

On examination, the electrician decided that power would not be restored to the house without a lot of expense and work, so for now, the house is without electricity, and given the age of the house, it may remain that way. 

Yep, I'd say this one is totalled....
As we inspected the damage that day, we found that one shed had been completely gutted, as had three cars.  But somehow, the house was saved, the main big shed (which was the closest to where the fire had started) was fine, as was our other cars and the shearing shed. 

I’ve spoken in recent posts about miracles, and I believe we just had our third one in a fortnight!  How our entire house did not go up is absolutely amazing; when we sped out the driveway, the fire was about to take it, and I was positive we’d be returning to nothing but a pile of smouldering ash.  But no, we still have a house.  However, with no electricity, we decided to move into my parents’ home, 15kms away, which has been standing empty since they made their move into the Old Folks’ Home a few months ago.  The plan now is to sleep there each night, and go out to our house to finish the sorting, packing and moving during the daylight hours.

Can I just say that I have the most amazing, brilliant, children?  Even in the event of a fire sweeping towards our home, they kept their cool, worked together wonderfully, and with cool heads, saved our home, our car, and even grabbed the dog.  The past couple of days has been an incredible experience – not one I’d like to repeat – but just watching them and realising just how much they have matured, even in that short space of time, has been an honour and a privilege.  And again, we have spent time in prayer together, holding hands, and thanking God for his providence once again.  

Bill's Tool Shed

Bill's Tools and Work Table

As if my last post on moving was not convincing enough, now we are certainly moving!  Our whole focus now is the cleanup and packing up, and heading off.  Bill left NSW the day after the fire, and is now back with us (praise the Lord!).  I still can’t quite believe we got through the whole affair without him, but, we did, and we are still standing tall.  And I discovered a strength within myself I never knew existed.  They say what doesn’t kill you makes your stronger – and this month, October 2012  – has certainly made me a much stronger person.  I think by the time I get to Grafton, I’m going to be the strongest woman out; maybe it’ll be my turn to sing, ‘I Am Woman’ at our next homeschool concert! 

We are alive. We are safe. And we are together. 

And..  umm..  I guess we’ve taken care of that yard cleanup.



Tricia Button said...

Oh, Linda, how distressing! Praise God that you are all safe and that the house didn't go up in flames. I'll look forward to your " I am woman" rendition next year. Take care. Tricia.

Therese said...

So glad you are all safe. Hopefully you will have everything all packed soon and put all this behind you.

Marina said...

Our hearts continue to go out to you and the family. Yes, it certainly does seam like you've 'burnt' the last bridge on your way out of SA !!! Let's just hope that the old adage of "bad luck always comes in threes" holds true and that now it will all be plain sailing as you finish tying up loose ends and head on to your new adventure interstate.

Katie said...

Wow - ptl you are all safe! My heart goes out to you, and although I am not close enough to help you in person, know that you are in my prayers.

Linda said...

Thankyou, all. We are working to clean up the mess, and in a strange way, it's made things easier, as now, it's purely 'clean, pack and go'. It's given me more of a sense of determination, and, given that it all nearly went up in flames anyway, I am much more able to throw things out and let them go.

Had a great day today - another room sorted, the caravan cleaned out, and three dump runs. We really are getting there - even through there is still much to do, I can really see the progress now!