Old 01-12-2015, 08:43 AM   #1
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Default My Studio Just Survived an INTENSE Bushfire!!

I've been offline since the start of this year for very good reason. On January 2nd, we were inundated with the most intense bushfire Adelaide has experienced since 1983!
There's already a Wiki entry for these fires: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Adelaide_bushfires

I live on a 20 acre farm in the Adelaide Hills and my residence/studio is a converted bunker (semi-underground, steel frame, concrete building which SHOULD be OK in a bushfire).

On Friday 2nd, there was smoke and fire very close to us and the temperatures here were in the 40's (degrees C) which is around the 110F mark and there were hot and powerful winds blowing amidst plenty of fuel (trees and grass) dried out by a rather dry period (it is summer here in Australia).
So, we were keeping an eye on things all throughout the day but by night time, I decided I'd try to get some sleep.

Well, at 11PM comes a loud and persistent knocking on my door. It is my neighbour waking me up and telling me we have to evacuate. Basically, there was a wall of fire covering an entire side of the horizon heading STRAIGHT FOR US!! We are located literally right in the middle of the area these fires hit.

This isn't my photo but it is basically what we saw:
Those little irregularities on the horizon are full sized trees just to give you an idea of the magnitude of this thing!



I got up, got dressed, grabbed my cat, my computer and drives, some water in my Army hydration pack, my wallet and my bible and packed the car. We then all arranged to meet down the road at Hungry Jacks car park where we'd make further plans.

We all got out OK and, after meeting again at around 11:30PM, I decided I'd go back as close as I could and wait it out. There was a police road block at the end of our street which I waited at. They had radio contact with the fire department so I figured it was the nearest safe place I could be.

Cutting a very long story a little shorter, I waited there with many others all night and we watched as smoke and flames burned visibly in many directions near us.

At 6:30AM Saturday morning, the fire department came near us to refill and I took the opportunity to ask them whether it was safe to drive back and see if the property was OK. They had just come from near our place and said I could go back and check if I wanted to because the roads were clear at this point. I took the opportunity and headed back home. By this time, the sun had come up and as I got nearer to home, the smoke got thicker and was all around but the roads were indeed clear.

This was the view I had when I got home:



I parked my car in my bunker and went for a walk out to the back of the property where there was plenty of smoke rising and saw a fire spreading quickly which was headed in the direction of our water tanks and our hay shed (BAD NEWS if the hay shed caught alight!!)

Just at that moment, a CFS (Country Fire Service) fire truck appeared in our driveway to do a u-turn so I ran down the drive and alerted them to the fire which was not visible from the road. They radio'd to a four wheel drive unit which was better able to negotiate the terrain and I jumped on board with them, shovel in hand, and guided them through the property to the fire which we spent the next four hours fighting. I have a new appreciation for the effort and heat involved in fighting bushfires now!!

Here's a shot of the fire truck doing the u-turn which I alerted (I had my GoPro on me and took this shot with it):




Here's a shot of the final moments of containing the fire:




After we contained the fire, I got a ride back down the hill and took the following shot from the truck:




For the next few days, the fires continued to burn all around us and I spent Saturday and Sunday containing smaller spot fires around our property and the neighbours property.

Here's what the scene looked like on Saturday evening:




A few days later, the landlord returned home with his son and his son's cousin and we shared the load together. They couldn't return home any earlier because shortly after I made the most of the opportunity to return (Saturday morning), they declared the whole area a disaster zone and closed all the roads. I had to stay put. If I left, I would not be able to return until they opened the roads.

I had electricity for a day or so but the fires took out the supply which I was actually expecting to happen faster than it did. To make matters more complex, our main water supply comes from a bore and is pumped to the top of the hill via a large, multi stage, three phase pump. Needless to say, we had the sprinklers running when we left on Friday night and while they created a decent fire break, they also drained the water tanks.
So, within a day or so, I was there on my own, with no electricity and no running water. I still had some 12 volt batteries here which I used to keep lights running and my phone charged.

We had a small generator (950 watts) which I got running and used to keep the fridge cool and the lights on. I also used it to recharge the 12 volt batteries. However, it is an old generator and it eventually died.

Just before the generator died was when the landlord, his son and his nephew arrived back (the roads were still closed but they made a few exceptions for local residents to return).
We had arranged the loan of a large, 8KVA generator but when it arrived and we fired it up, it kept stalling!! Peter (landlord) then made a decision to purchase a new 8KVA one and we arranged for his other son (who was still outside the roadblock) to purchase it and we'd meet him at the roadblock to collect it, along with some more food supplies and fuel for the generator.

Here's a shot of the roadblock taken from my phone:



and a close up of the fire danger sign:




OK, so we got the new generator up and running and I ran power leads around the various residential areas on the farm and we got all the fridges cold again. We had plenty of power to run lighting, cooling and the 60 inch TV so we could keep an eye on the news. However, another complication set in and that was that other neighbours had returned home (which was a good thing) but our new generator was far too loud to keep running at night and it was stinking hot so none of us were able to get any sleep (I hadn't had much sleep for days by this stage anyway).

Fortunately, the next day they opened the roads to local traffic and I was able to leave to buy more food. I also purchased a large 12 volt, 150 Amp Hour AGM deep cycle battery and a charger for it which I bought home and connected to my sine wave mains inverter. During the day, the generator recharged the battery and at night, I used it to run the lighting and cooling.

A couple of days later, our mains power came back on and here I am, totally exhausted, trying to piece together this little essay for you all to read. Fortunately, our cattle, our sheep, our chickens and our residences and my studio all survived.

I literally thank God for the outcome which could've been FAR worse for us and indeed was for some.

After witnessing the amazing efforts, the incredibly helpful and enthusiastic spirit and the wonderful teamwork of the fire crews first hand, I am now looking into joining the local fire department as a volunteer firefighter.


Here's a few more photo's from various news sites:






...and lastly, a few more photo's I took around our property:

This is the burnt remains of part of the fire that was threatening our hay shed and water tanks on Saturday morning:


Fire crews containing one of the fires coming up the other side of one of our surrounding hills;


Some of the spot fires I was battling Saturday night to keep away from the hay shed which is in the foreground:


More spot fires I battled for a couple of days alone. You can see our water tanks in the middle of this photo:
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Old 01-12-2015, 08:44 AM   #2
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Smoldering remains of the fire that threatened our property and the next door neighbours. This is the one I fought with the CFS on Saturday morning:


Smoke cloud from the main fire front on Saturday afternoon. This view is looking across from my roof:
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Old 01-12-2015, 08:48 AM   #3
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Well, now that all this is over, I can get all excited about new stuff in REAPER!!!

I just need to catch up on a HUGE amount of lost sleep first (days with next to no sleep takes it's toll).

Last edited by ReaDave; 01-12-2015 at 09:59 AM.
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Old 01-12-2015, 08:59 AM   #4
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Here's a very revealing video taken by one of the firefighters with his GoPro:

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Old 01-12-2015, 09:08 AM   #5
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damn i feel jealous that must have been a great experience, look at those images..... nice photos/places despite the damage.

hopefully everyone is ok!

my days were boring as hell!!
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Old 01-12-2015, 09:18 AM   #6
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Dave, Wow! I'm glad that you're safe. Those were some terrifying photos! I can't imagine seeing that across our farm.
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Old 01-12-2015, 09:32 AM   #7
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damn i feel jealous that must have been a great experience, look at those images..... nice photos/places despite the damage.

hopefully everyone is ok!

my days were boring as hell!!
Yeah, everyone here is OK. Another amazing thing about these fires is that there were no lives lost. That is a real tribute to the amazing work of the CFS. It is also a HUGE answer to the prayers of many.

This is a pretty amazing place to live. Despite the fire risk, I have no plans of leaving. I love it here.

I don't know that I'd describe this experience as 'great' but it certainly wasn't boring!!
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Dave, Wow! I'm glad that you're safe. Those were some terrifying photos! I can't imagine seeing that across our farm.
Yeah, it was pretty full on Friday night. It was by far the most intense thing I've ever seen in person. Not the kind of view you want to see every day!!
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Old 01-12-2015, 09:48 AM   #8
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Really glad everyone's okay, but please leave mentions of pre-release features for the pre-release forum. ReaDave, if you'll go edit your post I won't have to move it to pre-release forum, where it won't get the attention it deserves.

Thanks in advance...

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Old 01-12-2015, 10:00 AM   #9
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Really glad everyone's okay, but please leave mentions of pre-release features for the pre-release forum. ReaDave, if you'll go edit your post I won't have to move it to pre-release forum, where it won't get the attention it deserves.

Thanks in advance...

Scott
Sorry about that Scott. I thought I was discreet enough there but perhaps not. Post edited.
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Old 01-12-2015, 10:19 AM   #10
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Glad your studio survived. I had a similar experience, but was unfortunately not so lucky. My studio (as well as many others in the area) was completely destroyed by hurricane Sandy a couple years ago. It was a seriously unreal amount of destruction. Walls were pulverized, metal doors bent out of their frames like tin foil. Lost pretty much all my recording equipment and guitar amps (about $15-20K USD). There was a really high end studio nearby that had just opened a few months ago that had a vintage console and lots of rack mount gear that was pretty much entirely destroyed as well.

As rough as that was, we picked up and rebuilt. I'm still feeling the effects of it financially, but we are actually in a better place than we were before. Funny how that works.
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Old 01-12-2015, 10:23 AM   #11
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Wow, Dave, that was a close call. Amazing photos. I didn't realise how close the fires were to Adelaide. My sister lives in Modbury and is ok.

Glad you're getting back to normal.
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Old 01-12-2015, 10:28 AM   #12
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Glad your studio survived. I had a similar experience, but was unfortunately not so lucky. My studio (as well as many others in the area) was completely destroyed by hurricane Sandy a couple years ago. It was a seriously unreal amount of destruction. Walls were pulverized, metal doors bent out of their frames like tin foil. Lost pretty much all my recording equipment and guitar amps (about $15-20K USD). There was a really high end studio nearby that had just opened a few months ago that had a vintage console and lots of rack mount gear that was pretty much entirely destroyed as well.

As rough as that was, we picked up and rebuilt. I'm still feeling the effects of it financially, but we are actually in a better place than we were before. Funny how that works.
Oh man, that's tough for you guys! I still remember hearing and following everything with Sandy from here in Australia. It was all over our news too.
Glad you are in a better place now but what a thing to go through!

My gear here is all insured but there are things I would find very tough to replace (mostly the vintage synths) and, of course, there's all the recordings and other irreplaceable media. I have most of the critical stuff backed up (that was on the drives I took with me when we evacuated) but it would be tough to lose it all.

If a fire ever does completely destroy most of our farm, I hope the bunker would survive. It is built to withstand such things (steel frame and concrete) and despite all the smoke outside, the air inside remained clear the whole time.

Our plan 'B' if we are caught without time to evacuate is to gather here in my studio.
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Old 01-12-2015, 10:29 AM   #13
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Whew! Holy Smoke
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Old 01-12-2015, 10:31 AM   #14
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Wow, Dave, that was a close call. Amazing photos. I didn't realise how close the fires were to Adelaide. My sister lives in Modbury and is ok.

Glad you're getting back to normal.
Glad your sister is OK.
Modbury is just down the road from here (about 20 mins drive). My landlord owns the Modbury Clark Rubber store. I also have a trade account with Jaycar Electronics and am a regular customer at Jaycar Modbury. I bought the deep cycle battery charger from them and they said they could smell all the smoke in the store!
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Old 01-12-2015, 10:34 AM   #15
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Whew! Holy Smoke
Whew is right!! There wasn't too much 'holy' about the smoke here though!
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Old 01-12-2015, 10:37 AM   #16
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Congratz on surviving the experience!
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Old 01-12-2015, 11:00 AM   #17
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Wow, what a story ... happy to hear you're okay, and that none of the animals were harmed (nor your studio and home for that matter).

Those are spectacular and frightening pictures at the same time.
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Old 01-12-2015, 11:07 AM   #18
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you're amazing Dave.
so happy that you're ok.
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Old 01-12-2015, 01:04 PM   #19
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Glad you're ok!
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Old 01-12-2015, 02:51 PM   #20
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Wow! What a story you will have to share for a LONG time thanks to one thing: you survived! Thank God for that! Glad you and everyone else, as well as your home made it through ok.
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Old 01-12-2015, 03:15 PM   #21
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wow! what a story ... glad that everything went well in the end, relative to that catastrophe.

and fire isnt funny. I was near a fire in Germany, when thousand of acres of wood were burning. cant remember the year, must have been in the 70s. (hey, german kollegen, das war als in der nähe von Zelle alles gebrannt hat, wann war denn das genau? ich bion gerade zu faul um bei Wikipedia nachzusehen ...)

when a horizon is set on fire - this fire was small compared to your experience, but in Germany the horizon is of course smaller than in Down Under - that is not funny. I was frightened to the bones, not really in danger, but the impression of something so big coming from mother nature is overwhelming. similar to the experiencce of a really bad weather in the open and on 4.000m high alm in the alpes. there is nothing you can do when mother nature strikes.

nature can be sooo ****ty ...

good to have you back here, Dave, uninjured and healthy.
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Old 01-13-2015, 03:57 AM   #22
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I knew the fires were in your area but not how close...!!! Glad you're ok.

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Old 01-13-2015, 05:12 AM   #23
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So glad you & your studio are safe Dave. We were watching those fires and the Victorian ones closely via the media. We had only recently travelled through much of that area as we meandered to a wedding in Tanunda.
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Old 01-13-2015, 09:43 AM   #24
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Congratz on surviving the experience!
It was certainly a relief when the rain came. We sat on the porch watching the lightning, listening to the rolling thunder and thoroughly enjoying the refreshing rain.
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Wow, what a story ... happy to hear you're okay, and that none of the animals were harmed (nor your studio and home for that matter).

Those are spectacular and frightening pictures at the same time.
Spectacular and frightening are two very appropriate words Peter! Especially seeing it unfold right in front of your eyes!
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you're amazing Dave.
so happy that you're ok.
I'm pretty happy that my studio is still here too!! The ones who are truly amazing are the CFS volunteer firefighters. They did an incredible job!
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Glad you're ok!
Me too!!
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Wow! What a story you will have to share for a LONG time thanks to one thing: you survived! Thank God for that! Glad you and everyone else, as well as your home made it through ok.
Absolutely Jeff!! Believe me, I have thanked God many times since this ended.
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wow! what a story ... glad that everything went well in the end, relative to that catastrophe.

and fire isnt funny. I was near a fire in Germany, when thousand of acres of wood were burning. cant remember the year, must have been in the 70s. (hey, german kollegen, das war als in der nähe von Zelle alles gebrannt hat, wann war denn das genau? ich bion gerade zu faul um bei Wikipedia nachzusehen ...)

when a horizon is set on fire - this fire was small compared to your experience, but in Germany the horizon is of course smaller than in Down Under - that is not funny. I was frightened to the bones, not really in danger, but the impression of something so big coming from mother nature is overwhelming. similar to the experiencce of a really bad weather in the open and on 4.000m high alm in the alpes. there is nothing you can do when mother nature strikes.

nature can be sooo ****ty ...

good to have you back here, Dave, uninjured and healthy.
It is good to be back. Fire indeed isn't funny, especially when a wall of it races towards you!! Even though it got the adrenaline running, I actually wasn't afraid at any point. Not because I am any great hero or anything (I am certainly NOT) but simply because I am genuinely not afraid of death. Don't get me wrong, I have no death wish and thoroughly enjoy life but rather, I know where I am going when I die and I'm looking forward to that too.
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I knew the fires were in your area but not how close...!!! Glad you're ok.

Steve
Cheers Steve.
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So glad you & your studio are safe Dave. We were watching those fires and the Victorian ones closely via the media. We had only recently travelled through much of that area as we meandered to a wedding in Tanunda.
I haven't been to Tanunda yet but love this whole area. As you would've seen, there's some spectacular spots around here. Despite the bushfire risk, I have no plans to leave. I love it here. In fact, my studio is probably safer and more secure here than any other place I've lived. Even if the fire did rip straight through the property, I'm pretty confident my studio would survive. This bunker was built to withstand such an occurrence.
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Old 01-13-2015, 01:05 PM   #25
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Sorry to hear, ReaDave. Minute I saw the title I figured you meant Adelaide or close by. Our whole earth climate is getting totally messed.
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Old 01-13-2015, 04:32 PM   #26
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Glad you got out of it ok....

Another good reason why the southern States need to pull their fingers out and start strategic fuel reduction burning each year. How many more catastrophic fire events do we need before someone realises more needs to be done?

Your land management agencies have a lot to answer for
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Old 01-13-2015, 07:42 PM   #27
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Quite the adventure you've had, with a good outcome. Good luck on your fire fighting endeavors. Glad you're ok and are recovering well enough to share it here.
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Old 01-13-2015, 10:13 PM   #28
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WOW, these are staggering pictures!

Glad your studio survived, and even more glad there wasn't any causalities


Welcome back, man!
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Old 01-14-2015, 01:49 AM   #29
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Quite an interesting read. Great to hear how things are going for you considering the circumstances. Kudos for fighting along with the Fire Crew.

Best of Blessings
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Old 01-19-2015, 11:45 AM   #30
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Sorry to hear, ReaDave. Minute I saw the title I figured you meant Adelaide or close by. Our whole earth climate is getting totally messed.
Yep. Things are pretty strange weather wise and they're only going to get worse.
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Glad you got out of it ok....

Another good reason why the southern States need to pull their fingers out and start strategic fuel reduction burning each year. How many more catastrophic fire events do we need before someone realises more needs to be done?

Your land management agencies have a lot to answer for
I completely agree with you there. Seems they are just a tad short of any common sense in this matter!
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Quite the adventure you've had, with a good outcome. Good luck on your fire fighting endeavors. Glad you're ok and are recovering well enough to share it here.
Yeah. It was pretty full on. On the positive side, I found out that my studio is smoke proof!!
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WOW, these are staggering pictures!

Glad your studio survived, and even more glad there wasn't any causalities


Welcome back, man!
Cheers Greg. It is truly a miracle that there were no casualties AT ALL in these fires! Who says God doesn't answer prayers?!!
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Quite an interesting read. Great to hear how things are going for you considering the circumstances. Kudos for fighting along with the Fire Crew.

Best of Blessings
Thanks Unique. Same to you too.
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Old 01-20-2015, 02:24 PM   #31
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Hi Dave, belated congratulations on surviving. I flew into Adelaide tue morning the 6th of jan, two days after the fire there was still a huge amount of smoke evident.

Sunday TV news in Newcastle I saw some properties around one tree hill that had been totally destroyed, where people lost their home, animals and all their belongings. Cars and tractors just twisted junk.

I'm very happy to hear your studio is long term safe. Agree with OpIvy though that we are really not on top of this issue of fuel build up at all, especially in these semi-rural/outer suburb areas. The 'hobby farm dilemma' you could say.
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Old 01-20-2015, 02:53 PM   #32
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...Agree with OpIvy though that we are really not on top of this issue of fuel build up at all, especially in these semi-rural/outer suburb areas...
As a Blue Mountains resident I couldn't agree more.
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Old 01-21-2015, 03:16 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by hamish View Post
Hi Dave, belated congratulations on surviving. I flew into Adelaide tue morning the 6th of jan, two days after the fire there was still a huge amount of smoke evident.

Sunday TV news in Newcastle I saw some properties around one tree hill that had been totally destroyed, where people lost their home, animals and all their belongings. Cars and tractors just twisted junk.

I'm very happy to hear your studio is long term safe. Agree with OpIvy though that we are really not on top of this issue of fuel build up at all, especially in these semi-rural/outer suburb areas. The 'hobby farm dilemma' you could say.
One Tree Hill is literally just down the road from me. Very thick bushland there and many unsealed gravel roads.
As amazing as it may sound, the recent unusually heavy rain we've had over the couple of weeks since the fires has actually turned a good portion of the burnt areas green again already!! It is rather surreal actually. The section of our property that was blackened is green to the point you would hardly know there were serious bushfires here at the start of this month!
Once you take a walk down there though, the fallen trees and blackened limbs still give it all away.
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Originally Posted by alanofoz View Post
As a Blue Mountains resident I couldn't agree more.
I was talking to my landlord about that yesterday actually and he mentioned that there are too many greenies in control! I actually agree with him!!
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Old 01-21-2015, 03:20 PM   #34
Lawrence
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Join Date: Mar 2007
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Very happy to hear that you didn't get burned out Dave.

You should have some "hot tracks" now though huh?
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