Tuncurry fire | Great Lakes resident praise emergency personnel

Amanda Hills remained at her Tuncurry property to ensure both her neighbours and her home was safe.
Amanda Hills remained at her Tuncurry property to ensure both her neighbours and her home was safe.

With the benefit of hindsight Tuncurry resident Amanda Hills is pleased the decision was made 12 months ago to undertake a mammoth clean-up of her property, removing some trees and ensuring gutters were free from leaves and debris.

The Hill family, who have lived at the property for the past 18 months, is about 100 metres from where the bush fire raged along The Lakes Way.

While her terrified 11 and 13-year-old children, along with the family dog,  were evacuated into Tuncurry, Amanda made the decision to remain at the Fleeting Street property with her dad, hosing down the family home.

“It was pretty frightening,” Amanda said.

“There was nothing one minute, and then it (fire) was there; it happened so quickly.

“You just don’t think about it.”

Amanda applauded the work undertaken by the emergency services personnel, who she said did an amazing job.

Video by Kristin Holden.

“They don’t get enough credit.”

She said they had a calming influence over a very tense situation.

When a police officer knocked on another Tuncurry resident Debbie Smith’s from door advising to evacuate from her two acre property, she didn’t hesitate.

Debbie said the smoke had become very thick, and she was concerned for the health of her 87-year-old mother Shirley Urso and her 80-year-old partner, who both live on the premises.

We can’t make up your mind, but it would be advisable to evacuate, the police officer told a grateful Debbie.

“He did make up my mind to evacuate my elderly mother quickly,” Debbie said.

There were fire trucks everywhere, and they seemed to have the situation under control, she said.

The Lakes Way, Tuncurry

The Lakes Way, Tuncurry

Despite the danger as the fire closed in around outer Tuncurry, Debbie said she was not at all scared.

The family returned home from Forster later that evening pleased their property was untouched.

Great Lakes Senior College principal Bob Henry also commended the emergency services who assisted in the evacuation of the three Tuncurry education campuses.

He said the Great Lakes Rural Fire Service and police were  to be congratulated.

“They were brilliant in co-ordinating the whole process,” Mr Henry said.

“They exceeded their support; there was a lot of empathy.”

More than 1000 students and staff, and vehicles were escorted off the premises without incidence.

“At this stage of the year there can be more than 300 students driving to school.”

Tuncurry golf course, which was dangerously close to the fire, had a lucky escape with fairways and greens remaining relatively unscathed.

“The fire started at the north east corner on the 16th and spread down to the east on to the 15th , 14th and fifth,” Forster-Tuncurry Golf Club pro Nathan Dorahy said.

“We are pretty lucky,” he said.

As the fire intensified volunteers and staff scrambled to get the 70 plus players off the course and to safety using all the available golf carts.

Essential Energy had a scheduled power-off day leaving the clubhouse was without power and a siren which would not work.

He estimated everyone was out of the fire area within 20 minutes.

Staff returned to the site later that night to secure the premises.

This story Residents praise emergency personnel | video first appeared on Great Lakes Advocate.