Megan Brown says Pooh Bear's Corner saved her baby and son from burning car

Megan Brown says Pooh Bear's Corner saved her baby and son from burning car

With 30 seconds to save her two-month-old daughter and three-year-old son from their burning car, Megan Brown was ice cool.

Loss of power and smoke seeping into the second-hand Holden Zafira had alerted Ms Brown to danger, and she parked the car. Once parked, a bang from under the car and long flames licking out at her ankles after she had jumped from driver's seat terrified her.

Megan Brown with her children, Harley Bishop, 3, and two-month-old Breeze.

Megan Brown with her children, Harley Bishop, 3, and two-month-old Breeze.Credit:Melissa Adams

First she raced to Harley's side of the car, springing open his back seat seatbelt clip so he could scramble out himself. Then to Breeze's side where she pushed at the baby capsule's clip. It refused to let go. Ms Brown kept trying until it did unlock.

Not until many minutes later, trying to explain to the person on the other end of her 000 call, did Ms Brown crumple in sobs in the afternoon sunlight at Pooh Bear's Corner on the Clyde Mountain. Tyres on her seven-seater car bought a month earlier exploded in the fierce flames which charred the metal body.

Megan Brown's burnt out car at Pooh Bear corner.

Megan Brown's burnt out car at Pooh Bear corner.Credit:Megan Brown/Facebook

Two weeks previously she had moved from Canberra to Surf Beach on the south coast. She was returning with her children about 5pm on Monday to the Canberra Institute of Technology, where she has a month remaining of her community services diploma, when the fire ignited.

"I just started losing power, there was nowhere to pull over on the road, because of the guard rails, nowhere for what felt like ages – for a kilometre – before Pooh Bear's Corner," Ms Brown said.

When she found the layby on the opposite side, she nursed the stalling engine with 120,000 kilometres on the clock into a last-gasp effort.

"There was smoke coming up through the dash, through the steering wheel column. I thought this stupid motor is going to blow up or something, I didn't know the car could catch on fire like that and I was trying to get off the road. When I saw the smoke, I freaked out completely."

Fire engulfed Canberra mother Megan Brown's car on Pooh Bear corner.

Fire engulfed Canberra mother Megan Brown's car on Pooh Bear corner.Credit:Megan Brown/Facebook

Breeze slept on blissfully. Harley peppered his mother with a million questions: "Why are we going so slow?"

"The car had fire coming from underneath," Ms Brown said, her voices almost lost in fresh tears. "I took his seat belt off and tried to get him to climb out while I got her out and the stupid thing was stuck ... like the capsule clip."

Her nightmare is captured in her Facebook post on Monday night, about Pooh Bear's Corner.

"This corner saved my babies' lives. Thirty seconds longer in that car and we would all be dead. But we are not.

"I don't know how or why this happened but we are OK and so is Pooh Bear's Corner."

On Tuesday morning without fresh clothes, or her children's change of clothes, toys or capsule, Ms Brown consoled herself that they were all right. "I just cry every time I think about it because I just keep thinking ... like ... what if this, what if that? I should have stopped in the middle of the road down further."

She said crossing the notorious Kings Highway had been frightening enough and thought: "Someone is going to come down here and run into us. I am really grateful that I did [cross] because it would haven't have got any further.

"I started crying when I was on the phone, waiting for 000, I ended up giving the phone to a woman.

"Liz, a nurse at Moruya Hospital, she was absolutely fantastic and helped me when I was upset with Breeze and trying to organise someone to come and pick me up."

A man arrived and helped settle down Harley, in tears because all his things were being burned. Fire units from Braidwood and Nelligen arrived and police from Batemans Bay.

In a recent Canberra Times article Ms Brown had read about the Crookwell potato farmers creating Pooh Bear's Corner for their four children more than 40 years ago, which captured the imagination of many other children travelling to and from the South Coast.

"They just put a new sign up, Pooh Bear's Corner," Ms Brown said. "After I was sitting down and talking to the policeman, we noticed heat from the fire had melted the sign."

John Thistleton is a reporter for The Canberra Times.

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