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Memories of 1994 bushfire: 'my lawn was igniting around my feet'

Date

Lane Sainty

Remembering 1994: Alfords Point resident Ian Kearns said it never crossed his mind to leave his street.

Remembering 1994: Alfords Point resident Ian Kearns said it never crossed his mind to leave his street. Photo: James Alcock

Ian Kearns knows the dangers of living in a bushfire-prone area better than most.

In 1994, four houses on his quiet cul-de-sac were obliterated when a raging fire swept through the gully behind Alfords Point in the Sutherland shire.

But Mr Kearns did not budge, occupying the same house now as he did two decades ago, in a street so tranquil it is hard to imagine the dramatic scenes he recollected.

''My lawn was igniting around my feet, I had spot fires in my gutter, the bush gully over there was totally ablaze, every garden in the street was on fire, there were no emergency vehicles around, my hose was going trickle, trickle, trickle,'' Mr Kearns said. ''I thought 'I'm out of here'.''

The two houses next to Mr Kearns' burnt to the ground but his house was spared.

He said it never crossed his mind to leave his street, which is met by pockets of bushland at either end.

''I used to do a bit of distance running and it's a great area to run and train,'' he said.

Instead, Mr Kearns made minor modifications to his home, putting more taps outside, installing a steel fence and cleaning the gutters more regularly. He also ensured there are no points where the backyard grass meets the wall of the house.

Mr Kearns described his street as a classic example of a bushfire-prone area, pointing out that it is situated on a west-facing ridge top.

However, he also said that Alfords Point is easy to evacuate.

''It's not like some of the houses that went up in the Blue Mountains,'' he said. ''There's a long driveway from the road to their house, the driveway has bush on either side of it, their house is in the middle of the bush … Here, sanctuary is just up the road.''

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