A resident caught at “ground zero” of last Sunday’s bushfire is concerned if electricity infrastructure is to blame for the cause of the fire, it is just a matter of time before another blaze is ignited.
As smoke still rises from smouldering logs, Allan Noble recounts being trapped, along with his wife Kim, in all directions by fire for over 24 hours, while his family believed the couple had perished.
A preliminary report by NSW Rural Fire Service fire investigators stated “electrical infrastructure on Reedy Swamp Road as the likely cause” of the bushfire, which Mr Noble said should be safe guarded during extreme weather conditions.
“It wasn’t an act of god, or just bad luck, it’s bad infrastructure,” he said.
“The possibility this can happen doesn’t make logical sense, it doesn’t make moral sense, it doesn’t even make economic sense.”
Vimy Ridge Road is named after a First World War battle in Western France, and Mr Noble described the scene on his property as akin to a “war zone”.
At one point catching on fire himself, Mr Noble said he is in disbelief at how he and his wife Kim managed to survive the ordeal that destroyed all of their 50 hectare Vimy Ridge Road property, leaving behind their shed and their family home of 25 years.
The 59-year-old said if it wasn’t for a voicemail left on his mobile phone by a neighbour, his sons, who were home and unaware the fire was raging up the hill towards the family home, would be dead.
“We had no warning, and the whole ridge exploded in front of us, it was like Hollywood,” he said.
“It was just jumping and moving so fast that when it hit the oxygen it went up like a nightmare. It was hell on earth.”
After hearing the voicemail, he rang his sons, telling them to evacuate as quickly as possible via back roads, as the couple drove home from Merimbula to defend their home.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, Mr Noble said some Reedy Swamp residents have described seeing powerlines sparking, and “fireballs hitting the ground”.
“We received no warning, and my boys could be dead,” he said.