Family took refuge in a lake to escape the Aussie bushfires
As scores of fires continued to burn the length of eastern Australia today, a remarkable survival story emerged from Tasmania, where five young children escaped a blaze that destroyed about 90 properties in their village by sheltering under a boat jetty with their grandparents.
Tim and Tammy Holmes were looking after the children in the fishing village of Dunalley last Friday when they noticed smoke rising from a nearby ridge. Not long afterwards, “we saw tornadoes of fire just coming across towards us,” said Mr Holmes, 62. “The next thing we knew, everything was on fire all around us.”
Sending his wife and grandchildren, aged between two and 11, running down to the jetty, “because there was no other escape”, he paused only to send a message to his daughter – the children’s mother, who was at a funeral in Hobart that day – before sprinting past the flames to join them.
For two-and-a-half hours, the family huddled beneath the jetty, up to their necks in water, gulping mouthfuls of increasingly toxic air. “There were times when we had to move deeper because it was too hot, and there were times when the jetty itself caught fire,” he told Australia’s ABC Radio. With smoke and embers swirling around them, “there was probably only about 200-300mm of air above the water”.
Eventually Mr Holmes found a dinghy and dragged everyone about 300 yards out to sea, where the air was cleaner. The children’s mother, Bonnie Walker, was beside herself with worry. All she knew was that they had left the house and were “surrounded by fire”. She told ABC TV: “I braced myself to lose my children and my parents.”
The family was reunited the following day. The children’s father had no idea of the danger they had faced, as he had gone hiking in a remote area.
Mr and Mrs Holmes lost their house. “It’s all gone, every last item, but it’s a great sense of relief to think that we lost not one hair on a child’s head,” Mr Holmes said.
Today brought a welcome cool change to south-eastern Australia, but 200 fires still raged, from Tasmania in the south to the Gulf Country in the north-east.
In the south, firefighters battled to bring the blazes under control before the return of hot, windy weather on Friday. The extreme heat has moved up to northern and central Australia. With another week of heat forecast, there have been warnings that the bush fire emergency is far from over.
The past week has seen four of Australia’s 10 hottest days on record. David Jones, manager of climate monitoring at the Bureau of Meteorology, told Associated Press: “There’s little doubt that this is a very, very extreme heatwave event. If you look at its extent, its duration, its intensity, it is arguably the most significant in Australia’s history.”
- 1 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 2 Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 3 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 4 Julian Assange and Edward Snowden join piracy mogul Kim Dotcom’s political campaign in New Zealand
Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
Jihadi John': MI5 may have identified Isis militant who killed David Haines but options limited
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: Police will be on high alert on Friday whatever the result
David Haines beheading: David Cameron says Britain will hunt down Isis 'monsters' shown in video murdering aid worker
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
Salmond accused of laughing off national debt with ‘what are they going to do: invade?’ joke
£45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...
£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...
£110 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cambridge: Supply teachers required fo...
£40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project...