Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Lightning Fire

We've had a crazy few days!

Two days ago our power went off at about 3.30pm. The weather had been in the mid 40 degrees celcius for over a week (for those who don't work in celcius, 40 degrees is 104+ degrees f). I took the kids out to the pool for a swim to escape the heat, and things were going fine.

Don't judge me for teaching my kids poker. They still have their clothes on, so my parenting skills are in check!
By 6pm the power still wasn't back on. I wasn't too fazed, as when the weather is really hot, the power can go out when the draw on it is huge. The kids had started asking about dinner, but it was just still too hot to go back into a kitchen with no air con. We stayed in the pool for a while longer, and then as the sun began to set, we headed inside.

By this stage, dark clouds had surrounded the house, and thunder was rumbling. I started opening windows in the house to let some of the cool breeze in. No sooner had I opened the lounge room windows, we were hit with a strong gust of wind (it looked like those scenes in a movie where a bomb goes of and blows people away in slow motion). The wind had picked up dust and leaves and goodness knows what else, and had turned into a quick dust storm. Vicious winds pulled branches from trees and trees from the earth surrounding them. We could hear branches hitting the roof. Sadly there was not much rain in the storm at all. Thunder and lightning surrounded us. Lightning is awful in conditions like this because the ground is so dry, and the likelihood of fire is high.

The kids were scared, and I was rushing around trying to close windows as quickly as I had opened them. CP was trying to remove loose items around the yard and verandah. I tried to locate all our torches, candles, matches and gas lamps before it got dark. And then we sat and ate spaghetti from cans for dinner.

And then just as quickly the dust storm had gone.

Trying to calm the kids for bed was going to be difficult. It was hot, and with no fans or air con, it was going to be a long, hot night. I wet some towels and got the kids to use them as blankets, though thankfully the weather had cooled slightly. Just as we were brushing our teeth, my in laws pulled up in front of our house in their truck. There was a fire. I ran out the back to see what we had somehow missed, and sure enough, in the distance to the south, was the eerie redish glow you don't want to see in the sky after a lightning storm.

It was dark everywhere except in the southern sky, and it looked close.

We couldn't tell if the fire was on our place or further south, so the first trip out was just to locate it.

And then the phone started to ring. In areas like where we live, this is what happens when there is a fire. We all call around to see if anyone else knows where it is, and to get more help. I manned the phone (and kids), and CP headed out to the fire.

A few minutes later a phonecall from CP confirmed that the fire was in fact on a property to the south of us, on a wheat crop (which was currently only stubble thank goodness), and there were about 20 men on the ground already, so he was heading home to prepare his water pump set up for situations like this.

Having sat idle for about 15-20 years, the water pump set up needed to be 're-adjusted'. CP was stressed, and it became something of an ordeal. The power was still out, so we were all working with torches, lamps and headlights. I asked CP if I could help and he told me to grab the hoses from out at the pool.

The kids were following my every moves, and no amount of begging would keep them inside. After threatening and bribing them they stood in the kitchen watching me stumble around the back yard with a torch and metres upon metres of hose. I dragged it past our BBQ area, and was about to take it out to the shed, when I caught sight of a large (fat) brown snake only metres in front of me. I froze and started screaming. CP came to help remove the snake, and then I helped him finish the water pump kit.

Once he had gone and I had put the kids to bed, I went outside to take photos of the fire from our back yard. This fire was about 15km away but the flash must have really picked up the colours in the smoke. The photos look much closer and scarier than it actually was. The fire would get under control and then the wind would pick up and spread it again. So it was a precarious situation.


CP came home at midnight and said that the fire was totally under control. We both tried to get some sleep.

The power stayed off for a total of 26 hours! Thankfully we have a generator, and the weather had cooled slightly. It turns out a power line had fallen.

We went for a drive the next day to see where the fire had been.

It had been huge. I am still chasing actual pics of the fire... might have to do an update later.

Hope everyone else stays safe this summer, and that those affected by fire, and still under threat of fire take care. We are all safe and sound here and there was no damage to physical property.



  1. awesome shots...our slip on unit (purpose built tanker and pump) has got such a work out lately that it sits in a constant state of readiness. No windstorms here thankgoodness but some pretty awesome lightning around last night...and some rain too for a change! fingers crossed more to follow.

  2. What a time you have had of it, even if the fire action was some distance away. Those photos are very dramatic. I'm glad you were all safe, and hope you stay that way over this hot summer!


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