I was driving into town this morning and listening to the fire warnings on the radio. 'Catastrophic' was the potential scenario handed out to country north east of here. This is a new warning that morphed from the Ash Saturday disaster. Before then, Australians only had to deal with 'high' or 'extreme' fire danger.
Driving again in the afternoon, I heard that a fire was burning out of control near Margaret River. The announcer gave warnings about Caves Road. Shit. I rang my sister who lives in a little wooden hippy shack in the forest there. Her phone was dead. I rang two other sisters. "She's okay. She evacuated." Finally Annie rang me. "I got my tools and some clothes. (She is an extremely well dressed mechanic) But I think my house has just burnt down."
The directions on what to do for people living on Caves Road brings home how truly terrifying this fire is:
"WHAT TO DO:It is too late to leave. You need to take shelter in your home and actively defend it.
Take shelter inside furthest away from the fire front and make sure you can easily escape.
It is best to shelter in a room with two exits and a water supply such as a kitchen or laundry.
You must seek shelter before the fire arrives as the very hot radiant heat will kill you well before the flames reach you. Protect yourself with long sleeves, long trousers and strong leather boots.
If your home catches on fire and the conditions inside become unbearable, you need to get out and go to an area that has already been burnt.
Do not leave in a vehicle or on foot as this is deadly."*
Images: Perth Now.