Recalling fires past in Gippsland

I read with interest your article (Gippsland Times 25/1) ‘Recalling the Seaton fires — 30 years on’ by Garry Howe.

I remember this well as my property was also savaged.

The date quoted is incorrect, the date being November 6, 1982.

My wife and the girls had left.

The boys, ages ranging from nine to 24 years-old, and myself, after conferring with the Flynn fire truck crew, decided to leave.

When we reached the end of the drive we met three other fire trucks.

We were asked to climb on the back and guide them through the smoke.

They surrounded the house and it was saved.  

Later one man, John Derham, was on the drive in front of the house with the boys when a large stringy bark 10 metres away exploded and the man collapsed.

The other two men got him into the truck.

They had to wind the windows up because of the heat and they couldn’t see through the smoke.

I understand they had their lights and siren on.

One of those men shook for weeks.

Sixty-eight days later, while working as a feller in what is now Blue Rock Dam, I was hit by a flyer.

The tree I was felling brushed by another and a small piece of wood was thrown back which smacked my hard hat, and I spent the next month in hospital.

One week before Ash Wednesday there was a fire burning in the Haunted Hills and there were gale force winds which were shaking the hospital.

I went to the window on the top floor to look and saw a spot fire start in the nature strip in the middle of the highway.

This made my hair stand up.

When school commenced in 1983 the teacher asked the children to write about their holiday.

My 11 year-old son wrote about the fire and was able to convey to the teacher the horrors of bush fires.

The 1982 fire was the first to have occurred here in living memory.

Since that time we have had to face two more fires: December 18, 2006 and January 18, 2013.

I would not expect brigades to place themselves in danger again like they did in 1982.

In 2006 we managed to save the house again, but all the sheds and fencing were destroyed.

It took me all year to clean up.

While re-fencing there was a large excavator here with which I wanted to push out all the dead trees but was unable to get permission from the shire to do so.

Six years and one month later we were faced with another fire, 3am on Friday January 18, the Aberfeldy-Donnelly fire.

This time we were able to save the house and sheds but the trees along the road were decimated.

All the dead trees were either burnt down or were later pushed over fences irrespective of how good that fence was.

Many of the green trees had been scarred by the previous fire.

These scars allowed the fire to take hold on the dead wood of the scars and were either burnt or have been felled or pushed over the fences. 

These fires were all man made.

In 1982 a fire had been burning in the bark at a log landing well up along McEvoys track for weeks.

In the night conditions, this fire broke out into the bush.

The 2006 fire was deliberately lit on the Tyers-Walhalla Rd not far from Coopers Creek.

This time it was heading for Glengarry and expected to cross the lines to Flynn, but on reaching the top of the hill a wind change sent the flames roaring across the foothills as far as Glenmaggie.

The latest fire at Donnellys Creek near Aberfeldy appears to have been the result of human carelessness.

Now many people have to face up to the devastation