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 Bushfire Survivors Huddled on Beach
Charles
 Posted: Mar 19 2018, 02:16 PM
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Tathra bushfire survivors huddled on beach as 'cyclonic' winds fanned destructive blaze

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Photo: Juvette Jory, Jerome Jory and Jason Davis try to escape the blaze that consumed dozens of houses in Tathra yesterday. (Supplied: Steve Jory)

Steve Jory made it back to his home in Tathra, on the New South Wales south coast, in time to pick up his children and a few of the mementoes they had packed.

It was Sunday afternoon and a massive fire had just taken hold of the bush behind his house.

Steve grabbed a couple of fume masks he had, especially for his son Jerome, who has some respiratory problems.

"Then we went straight down to the beach, but even then the smoke, the wind, the heat, the sand blowing was unbelievable," he said.

Mr Jory's home, which he had built himself with his wife, was lost in the devastating blaze that authorities say may have destroyed more than 70 houses and other buildings in and around the coastal town.

"We lost that house that was a labour of love," he said.

The family were ushered by police from the beach to the surf club and then escaped in the evening to Bermagui.

Some residents also spent the night at local hotels.

They are not allowed back into the town to check on their homes until the RFS gives the all clear, leaving many of them anxiously waiting to see what has survived.

Victims have begun telling their stories of how they escaped from the blaze.

Wendy Whiting, who lives in the small cul-de-sac of Flora Place, was inside her home when her neighbours rushed to tell her to get out.

"So I packed a few things, the cat was the main trouble, couldn't find him for a while, and I got in the garage and the power was off," she said.

"So then I was trapped in the garage and couldn't get the car out."

She said a friend helped her get the garage open and they went to the local surf club to seek shelter, but it was packed and they decided to head for the beach.

"So we got to the beach and it was like a cyclone, the sand hit you in the eyes and it was something terrible."


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Photo: Completely destroyed house and car in Tathra after a fire burnt through on Sunday. (ABC News: Brooke Wylie)

They eventually ended up in the Bega evacuation centre after being ordered to leave the town.

She saw the fire approaching her cul-de-sac before she was forced to flee and does not know what has happened to her house.

"It was just coming over the top and Wildlife Drive is all bush and apparently that's gone, a lot of houses are burnt down there so I don't know whether ours is gone till I get there," she said.

Another survivor, Warren Lowrey, was staying at the local caravan park when the fire broke out.

"We were just sitting there, trying to work out what to do and suddenly got the evacuation call, headed to the beach and walked along the beach up to the Bega river, and from there got evacuated to here," he said.

He said they got pretty close to the fire and only had about 20 minutes before it was almost upon them.

"We could see flames, saw flames coming over the hill, that's when we got the evacuation call and yep it was time to go."

His family spent the night at the evacuation centre in Bega.

His car and possessions are still at the caravan park but he said he was more concerned for the locals who might have lost their homes.


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Photo: In this house in a Tathra, only a chimney is left standing in the house after a fire whipped through on Sunday. (ABC News: Bianca Gurra)

Beach, car park quickly became crowded

Tathra resident Tas Fitzer, 21, said it was about midday when he saw the smoke rise up across the river from where he lives.

"It was pretty terrifying, we first of all went down to the beach in Tathra to again take precautions, but as the smoke started to get closer and closer we couldn't see much," he said.

"At lot of people with animals like us had gone down to the beach, we probably got there about 2pm or 2:30pm in the afternoon and a number of people had congregated there."

He said visibility quickly deteriorated.

"Getting down to the beach was all right, but probably about 3:30pm was when the smoke really started to envelop the area and there was a point where we really couldn't see a metre or two ahead of us," he said.

"It was a pretty terrifying situation, we had a cat and a dog, we didn't know if we had to jump in the water what would happen there."

He said the beach area quickly became crowded with people fleeing the fire.

"There would have been probably somewhere between 50 and 100 I reckon around the beach, which made it really difficult getting out when police did come, a lot of people having to try and reverse out of the car park.

"We had the fire coming from the south and we had to head north so the roads were blocked off so it was a pretty chaotic situation.

"Thankfully by just before 4pm, the police had come down and directed us to come into Bega and we made it to the showground."


http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-19/tathra-bushfire-victims-speak-of-cyclonic-conditions/9562102

It's hard to imagine what these people experienced. At least they survived.

Properties can be re-built, lives can't.



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scepo
 Posted: Mar 19 2018, 03:47 PM
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So true Charles.

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Alicia
 Posted: Mar 19 2018, 05:23 PM
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Shocking destruction. My heartfelt thoughts are with the people of Tathra, their families and friends. Well done to those who got the fires under control.
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Jonno
 Posted: Mar 19 2018, 05:38 PM
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This horrendous decimation of peoples homes, as with the recent massive Kinglake, Victoria fires, and into the past Ash Wednesday horror bush fire, the equipment of the Country Fire Authority is completely inadequate to fight the raging infernos which happen on a regular basis.

The modern equipment from other parts of the world should be purchased by responsible governments instead of wasting billions of dollars on projects and war machinery which will lay idle except for 'practice play of war games' when Australia needs the best equipment in the air with which to fight real bush fire wars.

The cost of a HeliTanker, buying one new is estimated at $30 million to $40 million, the cost of 70 plus F-35 Strike 'planes on order for the Australian Air Force is now above the $40 million each cost, then add Naval and Army equipment.
It is obvious that the decisions of our governments to spend mega-dollars doesn't ever include the safety and well-being of Australia's citizens.


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The incompeten authorities argue that the equipment will remain idle until needed, but in reality they can be quickly adapted for air-ambulance services, air-sea rescue, on-land rescue, urgent medical supplies transport and other services in our big country.


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Charles
 Posted: Mar 19 2018, 06:01 PM
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A rep up for a rational approach to an ever-present threat. It's a pity that our politicians don't ahve the same approach.

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charka
 Posted: Mar 19 2018, 06:48 PM
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wheres the paid staff how would that have fixed it
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lee
 Posted: Mar 19 2018, 07:06 PM
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What are the terrain and trees like at Tathra. If it is heavily canopied, Helitacs don't work.

This post has been edited by lee: Mar 19 2018, 07:06 PM

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Bill
 Posted: Mar 20 2018, 12:36 PM
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That picture reminds me of the final scene from the movie "On The Beach".

Looks like the end of the world.

We should be used to bushfires destroying homes and communities annually as it's been happening for thousands of years apparently.

We live in a country of droughts, fires and flooding rains. Why can't we do what we have always done in the past ?

Thought are with those who have lost everything. Unfortunately, neither the government nor the Insurance Companies will be of much assistance to you.

In two weeks you will be yesterday's news.



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charka
 Posted: Mar 20 2018, 01:57 PM
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called urban impact You must have a bush fire survival plan did the greenflies stop hazard reductions?

This post has been edited by charka: Mar 21 2018, 01:50 PM
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Alicia
 Posted: Mar 21 2018, 10:01 AM
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When donating to Tathra bushfire appeals, please give consideration to donating to BlazeAid. The experience here was that BlazeAid makes best use of the money and all the money gets to the people who need it. Many of the other appeals had a lot of rules and regulations and the money didn’t always get to where the donors thought it would. If you want to know more look up BlazeAid. The couple who are running it in atathra are apparently the couple who were in charge here. They did a fantastic job. The people in BlazeAid are volunteers. They not only do the physical work, they were an ear for people to talk to. People here said that the support of a chat over a cuppa was as valuable as the other work that was done. Just sayin’. https://s20.postimg.cc/x68t0lwf1/1120275_KASPa_Hdl.gif http://fairdinkumnewschat.b1.jcink.com/uploads/fairdinkumnewschat/lbill.gif
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