As bushfires sweep across Victoria, wildlife shelters are remembering Black Saturday as panicked and orphaned animals escape the bush in need of help.
Owner of Kilmore's Wild about Wildlife Rescue Centre, Lisa Milligan, said she had been on the alert all night as the fire raged all around her property, located on Bowers Road, four kilometres north of Kilmore, where an inferno has engulfed much of the area.
"I haven't had much sleep ... on Sunday, we were just waiting for an ember attack or the winds to change in our direction," she said.
"It's like Black Saturday – the wind could swing around and come back again, and we just don't know what's happening.
"The fire has gone across the front of us into the front gully.
"Last night was just so worrying – there was a glow as far as the eye could see. We could see the flames and the whirlwind and all we needed was one slight change in the wind, and we would have been gone."
The centre, which helps injured and orphaned wildlife before returning them to their natural environment, was set up by Lisa and Duane Milligan in 2009 as a response to the Black Saturday bushfires.
Ms Milligan, who on Monday was looking after 40 animals – including 30 animals that were rescued and orphaned – said what mattered most to her was not the house but her family and animals.
"All I want is for my children, my husband and my animals to be safe," she said tearfully.
Ms Milligan and her team have put the animals – which include cats, dogs, baby possums, sugar gliders, wombats and baby kangaroos – into four vehicles, ready to evacuate if necessary. In the meantime, she said she has secured her home by turning on sprinklers and watering the garden.
"It's just terrifying – we can see the fires coming at us in every direction."
Ms Milligan said staff have been calming panicked animals all night.
"The smoke is so bad, we had to come inside because it was burning our eyes.
"The problem is, we can't bring the bigger kangaroos in, so they've just been jumping around in the backyard."