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'Without them, this house wouldn't be standing': families pay tribute to RFS

Date

Stephanie Anderson

Bungendore RFS Captain, Sheldon Williams, accepts a plate of home-made meringues from Jacqui Coleman after extinguishing a burning stump at a property next to the Kings Highway near Bungendore.

Bungendore RFS Captain, Sheldon Williams, accepts a plate of home-made meringues from Jacqui Coleman after extinguishing a burning stump at a property next to the Kings Highway near Bungendore. Photo: Rohan Thomson

A crowded paper plate of homemade meringues was among the small gestures of thanks given to firefighters this week.

The misshapen offering came from Elliander Davis, who has been looking after her aunt's property outside Bungendore since flames came within metres of the back door last week.

The 17-year-old said the roads were still closed when she drove out to ''Caroola'', passing the Rural Fire Service crews tackling smouldering trees and paddocks.

Elliander Davis and Jacqui Coleman.

Elliander Davis and Jacqui Coleman. Photo: Rohan Thomson

''It's really nice, just to know that they're there,'' she said.

''Without them, this house wouldn't be standing.''

Her aunt Penny Kothe left the property with little more than her dog and a campervan when catastrophic warnings were issued 10 days ago, relocating to Ms Davis' family home in Canberra.

A sign on the corner of the Kings Highway and Hazeldell Road, near Bungendore.

A sign on the corner of the Kings Highway and Hazeldell Road, near Bungendore. Photo: Rohan Thomson

''It was a hard day for us all,'' Ms Davis said.

''We had the radio on all day, listening to the reports as it closer and closer to her property. We were really quite scared. She was scared driving out here, of what she would find, if there would still be a house. She just wanted to be safe.''

Fortunately, no livestock had been on the property, which Ms Davis' aunt had only recently purchased.

She said the blaze had destroyed a lot of feed throughout the paddocks, but the hard work of crews had saved the house.

''It would have been pretty hard [if it burnt], because my aunt lost a house recently to fire,'' she said. ''Her whole house burnt down.''

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