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Bushfire, Devastation and Loss

As you have probably seen on the News, our town of Tabulam has been affected by an out of control bushfire this week.

Here’s a little insight as to what has been happening this past week. Some photos are Linden’s that he took while he was at work.

I was at work on Tuesday and we were advised a fire had broken out around 10km west of Tabulam on the Bruxner Highway. The Highway had been closed and we had to make alternate arrangements for some of our students to get home. We had very little information about the fire or how bad it was. By the time I left work, it had travelled very quickly towards Tabulam, through the Aboriginal community of Jubbulum which had to be evacuated. The fire kept going down Chauvel Road towards the river, where houses, sheds and equipment were lost. It jumped the river at the Racecourse (2km from our home) and the town had been evacuated.

Linden was recalled into work to help with evacuations and I was told to wait at the bus stop where I collected the girls from their school bus and wait until it was safe to return home.

Around 6.30pm Linden told me I could go back home. The smoke was so thick and there were so many people unable to get back to their homes, either due to the fire being too close or the highway being closed. I opened the house up to whoever needed a safe place and we had about a dozen people waiting until the highway was clear for them to head back to their homes.

The next day the smoke was still chokingly thick and I decided the best place for the girls and I would be at work/school as the fire was nowhere near there. It’s been a very scary and stressful week with flare ups and more houses lost in the area. There have been times when I didn’t know exactly where Linden was and unable to contact him. I’ve been concerned about friends who are now in the area where the fire is burning but I know they have a good evacuation plan and the fire crews are looking after that area.

We have had the helicopters refuel at the town oval and that’s been exciting to watch, especially the ones with the water buckets. Elvis the water bombing helicopter has been here doing an amazing job as has the fire retardant planes. Fire crews from NSW and QLD have all been working around the clock to contain the fire.

A recovery centre has been set up in our local hall to drop donations for all the people that have either lost homes or been evacuated and unable to yet return. The girls and I took a delivery of items over on Saturday afternoon and the volunteers in there are such hardworking, selfless people. I’m so impressed by the community spirit.

I have read there have also been deliveries of hay for the farmers who no longer have food for their livestock.

The last update I had seen was that the fire was being contained so I am hopeful that things improve soon. Though the hot and extremely dry conditions will continue this week. We are in desperate need of some rain.

Our town is not currently in danger but surrounding areas still are. The fire has turned away from town, moved back up to where it started and is burning around 15 minutes West of Tabulam. The many fire crews, pilots, emergency services and community recovery centre have been amazing. We can’t thank them enough for what they have done. We all hope this nightmare is over soon.

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