Top of this week's to-do list? Save the house
Burnt land on Hazeldell Road, pictured on Tuesday. Photo: Rohan Thomson
Having fought back flames little more than 100 metres from their front door, Ulli and Sue Tuisk are still in shock that their home is standing.
The Hazeldell Road residents were among the dozens of property owners caught in the bushfire that has torn through land near Bungendore since Tuesday. As of 6am on Wednesday, the blaze had scorched 1123 hectares and had a burnt perimeter of 17km.
It was meticulous preparation that saved the historic homestead during the dangerous fire conditions, Mr Tuisk said.
Sue and Ulli Tuisk. Photo: Rohan Thomson
- Concerns over lack of radio coverage to warn of emergencies
- Fears loom for a perfect storm of heat and winds
- Stark reality of death for farmers as animals perish in the inferno
- Young firebugs to be educated over dangers
- Disaster loans on way for devastated land-holders, businesses
As part of their to-do safety list, the couple had rigged up a sprinkler system on the roof, running since the start of the week and coating the homestead in a "blanket of water". Nearby grassland had been eaten down by stock and windows were fitted with protective barriers in case the flames reached the yard.
But protecting the home was also the work of an entire community; Mr Tuisk said the fire came too close for them to consider staying and facing it alone.
The list that Sue and Ulli Tuisk prepared earlier in the week to protect their home. Photo: Rohan Thomson
"The fire just came over the hill and we thought we'd have to go," he said. "We were just going out the gate when the first fire truck turned up."
The couple were out until 2.30am, fighting alongside crews who they plied with water and essential local knowledge, while neighbours lent tools to a helicopter crew who had got into trouble.
But even this united front couldn't stop the fear as the fire approached.
"The flames came through as a grassfire around 6pm," Mr Tuisk said.
"We thought it had finished then the real fire came over the hill. The trees were burning. It was the real scary one. The smoke was so much, you could barely see past the front hedge. It was all just smoke, with everything red behind it."
Ground and air crews from across NSW and the ACT had been on the scene off the Kings Highway for several days, battling wind gusts of more than 100km/h, the Rural Fire Service said.
There had been no known property loss across approximately 30 homes in the area, said RFS member Chris Powell, who added that several residents decided to stay and defend their homes alongside crews.
"They worked with the bushfire brigade units and the fire brigade units," he said.
"We had all agencies here."
Crews were backburning and putting in containment lines on Wednesday evening, RFS incident controller Tim Carroll said.
"It's been controlled, but we're not calling it contained just yet," he said.
Further south, crews remain on scene battling fires spreading across the state. The Yarrabin bushfire continues to burn out of control.