One sister is leaving town. "My kids are getting more and more upset. They're getting all the old folk out of the hospital. The school's shut down. It's so smoky here. We're leaving."
Annie's house was obliterated yesterday. She's lost everything* and is running on a strange kind of adrenalin when I talk to her. I'm still waiting for her to crash.
"That house would have exploded ... the fuel tins I stored under the veranda, and my best motorbike too ...but my Nissan Urvan - the fire burnt in a neat circle right around it! That is my best car. I'm so stoked. Also, you'd never credit it, someone gave me a fire fighting unit the day before yesterday!"
"Well, that's not really useful when you've gotta race in, grab your paperwork and leave," I said.
"Yeah ... especially because there wasn't even a hose attached!"
My other sister (I have lots of sisters in Margs) is contemplating the fire front heading for her house as I write this post. She's in town and has been convoying cars, dogs, boats and furniture from her forest block all day. "You wouldn't believe the gusts. Fifty, sixty kilometres an hour. Then it just stops and we think everything's okay. The fire is making its own weather system. But now the wind has changed and its blowing the fire front towards the town. Everyone is freaked out."
She's worried about her landlord/neighbour who is refusing to leave. "He's like the captain of the Titanic, the stupid bastard. He's out there getting pissed."
On my last phone call, the sisters were okay but seriously rattled and tired after twenty-four hours of drama, sleeping with mates, community briefings and stressing out over horses etc. One sister wants to break a few DEC kneecaps but as I reminded her, "You'd hesitate at the crucial moment, darl. I know you too well."
Tonight ... the FESA incident controller Roger Armstrong told the community meeting that conditions were unlikely to get better. "It'll be traveling fast, the sky will go dark, it'll be very scary, and there'll be a lot of noise," he said.
*except her Urvan!