A bushfire started at Sisters Beach on Saturday afternoon. I didn’t actually find out about it right away. It wasn’t smoky and I hadn’t been online for a couple of hours so hadn’t seen any posts on the local Facebook group for Sisters Beach. The way I found out was odd actually. I logged on at around 7:30pm to chat online with my friend Gillian and she told me about it. Gillian lives in Melbourne and had heard it on the radio. Later I got a call from a friend from the Huon Valley also asking if we were OK.
Naturally I got online to acquaint myself with what was going on. The fire had started in the Rocky Cape National Park which surrounds our little community. Three streets adjacent to the park had a “Watch and Act” warning as there was a danger of embers falling on them. We did start to see a lot of smoke by nightfall, the clouds were spectacularly pink and later we could see the flames on the ridge of the hills behind us. The TFS website recorded how many tankers were attending and the number grew as the evening went on. We heard the sound of helicopters water bombing too.
We sat up quite late but were reassured that everything seemed to be under control and that the firefighters felt the risk had reduced a little. It was not a very windy night thank goodness. Eventually I went to bed.
This morning the “Watch & Act” had been downgraded to “Advice” although the fire front had spread out to over 400 hectares it was not getting closer to any homes. Two helicopters worked all day water bombing as well as the crews with tankers. Our mobile phone reception was lost as the tower is up in the fire zone. Luckily wi-fi is fine and we still have a landline.
At 6pm there was a meeting at the local fire station. I didn’t attend because I didn’t find out about it in time. Someone kindly posted notes from the meeting on the FB page afterwards and I learned that the fire had spread to 500 hectares and was moving northwest and southeast. The firefighters felt it was contained but not controlled and said that they would be doing some back burning overnight and that residents should not be concerned. The choppers will be back in the morning and they will try to get the fire under control before a south easterly change comes in on Tuesday.
I don’t feel as frightened as I did during the Huon Valley fires a couple of years ago. This one is pretty close but doesn’t seem as uncontrollable as those were. Of course, they also went on for much longer. It’s early days but I hope that this fire will not become unpredictable and start changing direction. I know how close Geeveston came to being consumed by fire. You can never underestimate a bushfire.
My biggest concern is that there is only one road out of Sisters Beach and it is close to the fire. It hasn’t been closed as yet. If it were, our only alternative would be to all go to the beach for safety. I’ll post again later with an update.