IN FEBRUARY 1952, the Bega Valley was devastated by bushfires and Mrs Fred Otton's two daughters, Marie, aged 16, and Jennifer, aged 14, were killed in the fire.
They were not the only ones who died during the blaze, with John Taylor of Quaama dying from exertion while fighting for his home, Jim Preo of Bega collapsing from heat exhaustion and, the Otton’s neighbour 64-year-old Rudolph Ogilvie also died.
Here is Mrs Otton's story of the day.
AT 2.45AM I got up early to get Max away on his bike to fight the fire.
Fred rode up later on his horse.
The wind was very light in the morning and coming from he west.
We – the girls and I - watched the fire getting worse and worse and I phoned and phoned for help to come from Quaama.
In the meantime, the fire had got away and swept through Pumpkin Flat to Bega at about 11am.
The wind was moderate and blowing slightly from the north west.
Everything was like tinder and we had very little water on the place.
Later, about 1.30pm, all the men came from fighting the fire up in the mountain.
Marie, Jennifer and myself had the lorry packed with things we would need if the fire burnt us out and he lorry was left under a tree in front of the house.
I had even cooked a cake and an apple pie and these were packed in the lorry too.
The other men came but nobody seemed to know what to do.
I stood in front of the car shed, a few yards away from the men and a voice called out “don't stand there or you'll get burnt”.
I don't know whose voiced that was.
Then standing at the side of the lorry I said to the men “I think that instead of saving buildings we should concentrate on saving lives”.
The men turned their backs and walked away to save an old shed!
Coming up to the lorry again, Rudolph Ogilvie said to me to move the lorry up to the north side of the house and right in the path of the fire.
Max very foolishly moved the lorry.
I was horrified when I saw it being moved but thought that his father must have told him, so said nothing.
The girls and I followed Max up to the spring on the northern side of the house and about 200 yards away.
To be continued.