Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Still standing

I'm sitting at my computer, it rests on a table, which stands on the floor surrounded by walls and a roof over head. But it might have been different had we not been terribly lucky last night.

If the woman at the top of the hill hadn't gone out to the bar fridge for that vital second bottle of wine, she wouldn't have smelt smoke and looked out across the valley to see the grass fire glowing on our shared boundary.

The power had gone off and when she called we were sitting in the livingroom playing acoustic music by lamp light. We're so low down in the valley that we were completely innocent of the fire - couldn't even smell the smoke.

G-Man went off to find some high ground to figure out where it was and met the Energex guys on the road in - they were looking for the power outage problem and beat the Rural Firies who I'd called on 000. Five guys with torches set out across the paddock (no road access) to find a downed line which, when it fell, was so hot it had set fire the long grass on the neighbor's property (our grass is grazed right down). Had this happened only a couple of nights ago, before yesterdays rain, when a windy storm blew up in the evening - I reckon we'd have had a bit of a conflagration on our hands.

There's a total fire ban here at the moment - everything is parched - and all those reports of the Victorian bushfires last year started cycling through my mind as I shut all the doors and windows to the house. Then I realised that was it - my whole bushfire plan.

Part 1: Shut the house. Part 2: Go out to see if you can put the fire out. Part 3: Run for your life.

Then I had to ask myself - what would have happend if the fire had got down into the scrub by the creek that winds around our house block, then, heaven forbid, up into the tree plantation? No naughty children playing with with matches to blame, nor any psycho fire bugs. The power grid started it and, apparently, that is somehow immune from blame. Becasue we're so addicted to the elecricity, we view a downed powerline as practically an act of God.

The lines that criss cross the bush are all potential incendiary devices. If it's going to get hotter and drier in this country, we are going to have to do something about the antique technology we've strung up above increasingly volatile bushland.

Thank you to the Rural Firies though. Very grateful you got out of bed to come to our aid.


  1. Hey Hughesy - glad to hear you're OK and the fire was quickly extinguished without too much damage...

    You raise a great point about powerlines - sinking lines will be expensive, but compared to the cost of another Black Saturday?!?

  2. Me too! Could have gone so horribly wrong.

  3. Scary stuff, Hughesy. You're right about the power lines, too. I've got to clear a lot of shit from under the one that runs to my house over these next few weeks...

  4. And just over the hill. A good lesson for us all. Glad you are OK.

  5. Glad you are all ok.

    So much easier to bury power lines and kills less trees!!

    Yes amazing how fallen power lines are NEVER the fault of the power company eh?

  6. Yes, gotta have a fire plan! Those Rural Firies are the best. I'd like to join but couldn't stand the heat - probably pass out at the first instance. We had some schoolies on the beach two nights ago, burning a fire on a windy night - and there's a total fire ban. My hubby pretended he was the ranger and got them to put it out.

  7. Glad that you and yours were fine. I really enjoyed your pomegranate post

  8. Hey you, glad it was a safe ending, I know you have a gazillion hard & soft backed friends on the shelves that'd be tragic if you lost, but if the Gman lost his music, that'd be a freakin catastrophe.

    I always wondered how poles could be cheaper than UG installation, then a sparky told me. The wire strung fromn pole to pole is worth X$/meter, with all the insulation & shielding required UG cable & conduit is about 20X / meter. More than enough to offset the cost of the poles.
    _Not_ defending them I was just interested in the rationale.
    I agree 100% that buried lines A: don't cause fires B: don't magnetically attract cars whose drivers have nodded off with lethal consequence & C; are not so visually Dog awful.
    You'd have a coupla rainwater tanks - get the Gman to rig a petrol powered* Fire Fighting pump with copper pipe to some aggie tik tik tik type sprinklers so you can at least keep the house cool & wet.
    The Fire is coming. It's a question of when not if.
    Perhaps this was a poke in the backside that you & the Gman needed to get prepped for the coming season.

    *first thing the Powers That Be do when a bush fire gets going is to shut off the power, so an 'lectric pump will be useless.