It happened on a sultry, cloudy afternoon. We sat on the back verandah, considering if it was going to rain, or if it was worthwhile going out to weed the garden. Out of the blue came the brightest flash of lightning, followed immediately by a deafening crack of thunder, the loudest I’ve ever heard. I darted for the door! I’ve had an unreasonable fear of thunderstorms since I was small, and we slept in our wired-in verandah in summer, often enduring summer storms.
The lightning felt so close we thought the house may have been hit. But there was no smell of burning, and the phone was still working, in fact it was ringing. Our worst nightmare was confirmed—a neighbour was calling to tell us our hayshed was alight. Our shed full of large clover hay rolls.
The lightning had struck an old pine tree, causing it to explode, sending branches far and wide, but worse, the lightning had raced across the ground in three directions. One lit a small grass fire, another went toward our neighbour’s shed leaving a mark on the wall, and the third travelled about 100 metres to the end of our hayshed, igniting the end bales.
We had a sinking feeling that it would be very hard to extinguish, and we were right! The fire truck seemed to take ages to arrive, having gone to another lane with a similar name. Fences needed to be cut. Everything seemed to be in slow motion, except the fire which raced up the side of the stack, then into the gap between the hay and shed roof. This acted as a wind tunnel that sucked the flames through and spread the fire rapidly. We could only stand by and watch helplessly. The bales had to be dragged out and saturated with water and detergent to extinguish them, which sadly rendered them useless for cattle feed.
Next morning, as we surveyed the sodden hay and twisted metal of the shed, it gave me an inkling of how people must have felt after bush fires ravaged their houses and property. I wondered how they coped with so much loss, so much mess to clean up. Ours was insured, but losing your home and possessions must be soul destroying, even if it is insured.
Strange how something happening ‘out of the blue’ can cause so much damage!