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.