Bemboka bushfire: Residents survey damage as neighbours lose homes

What Stephen Lennon cannot forget is the roar of the bushfire as it approached his home on Desert Creek Rd.

“The noise was unbelievable, the roar of the fire,” he said.

 “You could hear it and hear it and kept thinking it was going to come over that hill. 

“It’s an experience I don’t want to go through again.”

Mr Lennon stayed home to fight the bushfire that started off Yankees Gap Rd on Wednesday before it swept through Wadbilliga National Park to his road that evening, where it destroyed two houses. Fortunately, Mr Lennon’s house remained standing. 

“If the firies hadn’t been there, we would have been gone too,” he said. 

“I can’t thank the firies and National Parks [and Wildlife Service] enough.” 

Together they fought under strong winds, which continued to change directions. You might have thought fighting a fire that came within 40 metres of his house would have been incredibly hot, but Mr Lennon said the temperature changed depending on the wind direction. 

“It wasn’t cold, but it wasn’t hot; it was just weird,” he said. 

By the next day, he and his wife Janet Lennon had lost 80 per cent of their 69ha land, as well as a shed that contained two bales of hay, 35 loads of firewood and the majority of their fencing. Luckily though, their herds of 30 cattle and 20 sheep had survived. 

Ms Lennon was at home on Wednesday morning when she heard the fire was coming their way. They immediately started filling all their containers with water and by 2pm were running around their yard putting out embers. 

She manged to find time to fill her car with all the items that could not be replaced, such as trophies, photos, a video camera with 10 years of memories, as well as the belongings of one of her sons who died several years ago. 

“You’re just in that panic mode of ‘what do I take and what do I leave’,” she said.

“Your mind is going over and over and over.

“But we had that little bit of time unlike in Tathra, the poor darls, to think of what to grab.”   

When it got to the late afternoon they saw the fire approaching over a nearby hill, so Mr Lennon told his wife it was time for her to leave while he stayed on to battle the blaze with two of his friends. 

Ms Lennon “felt so much” for the owners of the two houses that burnt down in the blaze, who also lived on Desert Creek Rd. But she said the community along the road would band together and support each other.

“They’re just an amazing community, they’ll band together like you will not believe,” she said. 

“Everyone pulls together, that’s what we do.” 

She also wanted to thank the firefighters, saying there was a fire truck parked beside their house all night. 

“They were amazing, absolutely amazing,” she said.

Ms Lennon had some advice for people who may experience a similar situation to her. 

“Just get what can’t be replaced in you car and get ready to leave when you have to,” she said.

“But don’t be a hero. You can’t replace a life, but you can replace everything else.” 

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