“BE prepared” — that is the clear message.
Fire authorities are concerned a forecast of hot weather may bring a repeat of Tuesday’s fast-moving bushfire in Albury.
The New Year’s Day blaze on Nail Can Hill saw spot fires flare in backyards along two rows of houses, just a kilometre from Dean Street.
It was an incredibly close shave that should be a big wake-up call.
Yambla Avenue resident Rob Lethbridge has a row of houses between him and the bush but, on Tuesday, he had to put out embers in a garden bed along his side fence.
Yesterday he said he and his family hadn’t been fully prepared.
“There was a bit of panic to start with,” Mr Lethbridge said.
“We live in central Albury and you don’t think — we don’t have a fire plan or anything.”
Southern Border team manager with the Rural Fire Service, George Alexander, said the 20-hectare blaze had shown just how quickly a fire could move in dry conditions, even without high wind.
Mr Alexander said while there were some actions well-executed in the fire response, there was room for improvement.
He said some backyard fences offered limited protection from encroaching fire, while many residents were spotted battling flames in their thongs and T-shirts, instead of long, protective clothing and boots.
He was also concerned flammable material had been stored in yards.
“We’ve learnt a few things and I suppose residents have learnt a few things but, overall, it all went smoothly,” Mr Alexander said.
For many residents yesterday, the overwhelming feeling was one of relief.
They’ll review the success of their community fire unit in the days to come, and people such as Mr Lethbridge have vowed to get more involved in fire planning and protection.
This time the fire could prove a blessing — a clear call to action and a handy fire break for those whose homes came so close to destruction.