Girls face tough choices packing

IT’S moments like this when you discover what is really important.

As Yambla Avenue residents were told to prepare to leave, Phoebe Rankin, 8, and her sister Sarah, 6, were both asked to pack a bag.

Phoebe packed her PlayStation game console, Irish dancing shoes and socks, a Teddy bear named Stripey and her One Direction poster.

It was a serious decision for the little girl who was facing the possibility her house could burn down.

“I saw a bit of orange and the sun was orange and I could smell the smoke,” the St Augustine’s student said.

Mother Liz Rankin first saw wisps of smoke when she walked out of the house on her way to the pool.

She called triple-0 and was told emergency services were onto it.

Then, she said, the wind picked up “and it just went woosh”.

She and her husband, Larry, could see the flames between the houses on the other side of Yambla Avenue and, a couple of doors down, a spot fire sprung up.

Albury station-officer Dean Campbell was one of the first firefighters at the scene.

He took one look and knew they his crews would have to throw everything they had at it if they were to avert a much bigger problem.

“We thought a couple of houses were going up when we pulled up” Mr Campbell said.

“We called in just about everything we had.

“It’s really lucky we didn’t lose houses, really lucky the wind conditions were pretty still.”

The first emergency call was received at 4.22pm and by 5.20pm the heavy the smoke plume had petered out.

That’s when the Rural Fire Brigade dared to believe it had the better of the blaze.

Another half-an-hour later and they listed it as officially contained.

But it was eerie on the hill as two helicopters, one dropping water, circled amid a fog of ash, smoke and the distinctive smell of fire that had that permeated nearby homes.

Two fire crews stayed on the hill overnight to monitored the 20 hectares that had been burnt and ensure there were no flare-ups.

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