Some Duffy Fire Stories
These are some of the stories that I have heard in the days following the fires. I make no guarantee as to their truth. In fact I have already heard some of them retold with with changes and additions. "Chinese whispers" are alive and well. This is obviously the stuff that legends are made of.
These are retold roughly as I heard them.
The woman who lives in the house near to the Cotter pumping station had a dog and a duck. With the fires threatening she prepared to leave, she packed various things into the car. She found the dog and loaded it into the car. When it came to the duck she was out of luck, the duck stubbornly stayed under the caravan and nothing would budge it. With the fire coming quickly down the valley she had no choice and even less time. She left without the duck. The road out, curves around and by the time she had rounded the curve the fires were right behind her and chasing the car. She sped off at 140kmph, this wasn't fast enough, embers had set fire to the tyres and she only escaped by driving on the rims.
Some days later she returned to see the damage. As expected the house was gone, surprisingly the caravan was still there. Even more surprisingly the duck was alive and still under the caravan. No matter how she tried she still couldn't get the duck out from under this caravan.
A couple, x and y were evacuated to Philip College they met up with a friend. After the initial orientation and talk the women settled down to their lot and were walking the dogs. X however was roaming like a caged animal. He went out to the BMW to make a few calls and check the status of various people. After a while he managed to flatten the battery of the BMW. He was not impressed. He returned to the centre complaining about that "bloody BMW" and saying "it's not good enough". Eventually he stomped off to find a phone so that he could call BMW DIRECT and get the problem fixed. The two women just looked at each other. "I'm not going to tell him" said Y, "this is something he needs to do".
10 minutes later a battered tow truck appears next to the BMW and starts charging the battery. "Well I'll be buggered" said the friend, "if I had the money I'd get a BMW".
The tow truck driver said that he had been stuck in a line of traffic with no sign of moving when the call arrived. So with little else to do he answered the call.
Both 70 plus
Up on Eucumbene Dr there is a house just at the front line of the fire storms that destroyed Chapman and Duffy. The house fronts onto the two pine forests. In this house lives a couple in their late 70s. They stood and fought the fires with garden hoses. The next day when friends drove past they found them still in the front garden watering the garden as they have done for years. When the couple were asked what happened they said in their northern European accent "we are still here, they told to leave but we said No".
The sky was black, embers were falling, and the wind had reduced but was still gusting. My neighbour Tony said "I'm going to get my chainsaw and cut down the gum tree on the plantation". So he got the chainsaw. He pulled the string, it popped but didn't start. A second pull and the string came out in his hand. "Damn" or words to that effect.
Some time later the people down the road got hold of the chainsaw and fixed the string. They cut down and chopped up every tree until it ran out of petrol.
In their hurry they managed to fill the petrol tank with oil and the oil tank with petrol. Tony's tree is still on the plantation, he swears it will come out real soon.
Everyone put that house out !
One of the Bush fire men was stuck in our area during the worst of it. He spent the time on his motor cycle marshalling residents with hoses and giving invaluable support and advice. Over the next few days he was a natural rallying point for people keen to describe their contribution. We were doing the same and telling him how we moved up the street putting out spot fires. "Everyone says that they put out the front of 49, the sleepers kept re-igniting once they left". "Just in time for the next group to come along and put them out again".
No fire damage
On Saturday night a husband rings his wife to let her know the status of himself and the house. "I'm fine and the good news is that there is no fire damage to the house". "The bad news is that one of the water bombing helicopters dropped a bucket load that went through the roof and flooded the house". "We are the only people in Canberra with a claim for water damage".
This claim my not be the only claim for water damage. I have heard that one couple followed the advice to fill their spa bath. This was good except that they were so eager to evacuate that they forgot to turn the water off. When they returned home they found the house flooded from the upstairs bathroom.
Its only Elvis
A guy was on his roof, facing the oncoming storm. A number of gusts had tried to blow him off the roof. There was a lull in the wind and he was starting to feel that the worst was past. The next thing he knows is that the wind is coming from behind. He turned expecting to see that the fire front is coming from the other direction and that it's all starting again. But it was only Elvis draining the water from his pool.
Andy Rhind Mail me with stories that you have or have heard. There are many people who are compiling them.
A special thanks to all the volunteers and firies who fight these things every week.
Last modified 3/2/03