I quickly went to the front door and saw much activity in the street. It was soon obvious that this was not a small fire. People and cars and utes were frantically moving about. The fire was obviously more than the task of the volunteer brigades. Every able bodied male was being asked to volunteer.
Naturally I joined in, and somehow or other I found myself in a utility owned by two, 20 something year old brothers, the Smith boys. We were quickly out onto the Kilfera Road, ahead of the fire.
I don’t’ recall whether we had fire beaters or just wheat bags but we were soon fighting the flames which were advancing on the road. A weatherboard church stood in the path of the fire.
The fire seemed to gain momentum and was advancing rapidly. There was no doubt that it was going to cross the road at the point where we and the utility were stationed. In a hurry we sheltered behind the utility and, whoosh, before we knew it, the fire had travelled over the utility over us, and was proceeding, at a great pace, away in the distance. It was momentary. There was no time for fear or panic; everything happened so quickly.
We looked around us. The fence had gone. We looked in front of us; the tinder dry church was a smouldering ruin, as were the fence posts. We were miraculously unharmed. The fire had gone over the top of us.
The fire continued on its way and proceeded to destroy 30,000 acres of grass and wooded country; 12 homes, 320 miles of fencing, 8671 sheep, 121 cattle, 583 poultry, 24 pigs, 8 horses,2522 tons of hay, 61 tons of chaff, 2110 new unused fence posts, and numerous miscellaneous articles. Estimated cost 168,000 pounds, which was a lot of money in those days. Regrettably one life was lost. This was a disaster.
To this day I do not know how we survived.
In the aftermath, the community soon gathered to offer assistance to the victims. There was a continuous round of fundraising. Dances were held in all the country halls around the district to help raise funds, and I was nearly danced out. There were street stalls, fetes and every conceivable form of fund raising.
Much later in life I became friendly with two Smith farming brothers from the same area; but the fire had apparently disappeared from our memories, and, even if it was the same pair, the fire was never discussed.