Bushfire residents stay and fight

Bushfire residents stay and fight

11 December 2006

published by www.news.com.au

Australia — Residents living only metres from the Bright-Tawonga Gap fire inVictoria are staying to brave the flames despite the looming threat to theirhomes and businesses and the dangerous conditions in the region.

Phil Scott, owner of a café and pizzeria in Tawonga South, said he had filledhis gutters with water, locked his down pipes, hosed everything down anddistributed buckets of water around the yard but did not as yet see any need togive up hope.

“Choppers are flying over the house every few minutes dumping water and thereare a lot of people out in the street checking it out … Elvis has just flownover,” Mr Scott said.

“All we can do is try and stop any burning embers or leaves falling on thehouse but if the actual fire came through here we’d be out.”

“It’s a bit of a worry. I was in a couple of fires years ago when I wasyoung and it brings back memories – the smell and everything.”

Mr Scott removed his children from home at 3am this morning because the fire gotso close to his street.

He said he remained determined to stay, hoping tomorrow would bring a daywithout the threat of fire to his cafe.

“We are usually closed on Monday’s anyway so we are lucky I guess,” MrScott said.

Some people in the area are wearing face masks to shield themselves from thethick smoke.

“It is making it very difficult for the elderly people with their breathing,”said Wangaratta café owner Scott Williamson. “I think yesterday was thehottest day they’ve had on record for 50 or 60 years.”

“There has been a downturn in business for us … we had a quick look at lastyear’s figures and we are definitely down.”

“People are just staying indoors with their windows shut and the airconditioning on … there aren’t as many people on the street as there shouldbe at this time of year.”

Fred Pizzini, owner of Pizzini Wines in the King Valley region, said he almostlost his vineyard over the weekend and now had a new respect for the strength ofa fire and the value of defending his property.

“Considering the pressure we were under we got out of it nicely – we wereblessed, the weather was in our favour,” Mr Pizzini said.

“All up we only lost 2000 vines.”

“In the end you get a sense of different values… firefighter’s valueprotecting the land and bush and I think land owners and business people have atendency to protect their assets which is two quite different views.”

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