“I started off in the CFS base, I was pinning the nails on the map as each lightning strike hit and each fire was registered. We finished at about 17 individual fires when we got told there was planes inbound. So, I shot out to the airstrip which is on our place on Turkey Lane to help load the planes.
My youngest son Josh rang up and said ‘Dad, I can smell smoke.’
And I said ‘Josh, there is fire everywhere, you’re gonna smell smoke.’
He was 15 at the time. ‘Ok no worries, Dad.’
He rang back a couple minutes later and said, ‘Dad, I can see smoke.’
And I said ‘Shit, where is it?’ and he said ‘its halfway between here and the farm in the scrub.’
Then I just said to him ‘Mate, you’re the man. Every fire truck has gone, everyone is chasing these fires. You will not get any help, you’re on your own, go and put the fire out.’
So, he took his pride and joy ute he only had for 6 months, second-hand old rodeo.
He gets down the scrub and rings me up and says ‘Dad, it’s well in the scrub.’
I said ‘Josh, you’re not gonna get any help, just put the fire out.’
So, he pushed his ute in the scrub and staked the front tyre but made it to the fire itself and put a tank of water on. ‘Dad, I got water on it.’
And I am trying to load planes at the same time, bit busy.
‘Dad, I staked the front tyre, what do I do now?’
He told me the fire was still burning and I said ‘Go get another load.’
He then said ‘The tyre is buggered; I can’t get underneath to change it.’
And I said ‘Mate, they still make tyres, just drive it.’
So, he drove back, got to the dam; Mum is in the front seat with him. Helen and Josh are doing all this. They put two or three loads on it. Finally got the whole thing out, stopped all the yakkas burning on the ground, chased it up the Strinky Bark that’s been split in half by lightning and then he got it all out bar way up the bloody top. He couldn’t reach that because he didn’t have enough pressure.
So, he looked around, went to the backseat of the ute and pulled out his 1kg dry fire extinguisher, gone and climbed the tree, puts it out, climbs back down and rings me.
‘Yeah, Dad, how you gettin’ on with your little fire?’
Cheeky little bastard.
Look, a lot of horrible stuff happened but some pretty cool shit happened, too.”
Josh’s story told by his dad Sam