Tony Thomas’s youngest daughter Sara, a horse lover, and her newly-wed husband Brad bought a property of about 10 hectares at Kilmore East six months ago with a big paddock out front where she could run her two nags.
For the past week she and her husband Brad have been close to the epicentre of the Kilmore bush fires. They evacuated early last week for a night, spending time in a car park before lodging with Brad’s parents. The horses refused to go in the float and they left the gates open instead.
Next morning they returned, only to find the fire alerts suddenly becoming more ominous. The horses had stayed put.
For every day since there has been a see-saw of alerts rising and falling as the fires stopped and advanced across a 40km front. However, the fires were virtually all west of the Kilmore road and would have consumed Kilmore itself before reaching the little East Kilmore settlement near the railway station a few kilometres east of the main town.
About 200 fire trucks and 19 aircraft were in the battle to protect Kilmore, a significant town stretching along a couple of kilometres of the main road.
The fires’ progress could be mapped throughout on the FireReady app, making all the Thomas’s feel they were virtually on the spot. Their phones and iPads kept up a constant pinging as new alerts came in. The stay-or-go decision for Sara and Brad was constantly a live one, with serious consequences.
Whereas Sara and Brad’s property is not thickly treed, her neighbours’ houses down in the valley were tucked amid thick bushland. Those homes would not have had a chance.
Fortunately the big fires never got closer than 4km (at time of writing) but it was touch and go.
One of Sara’s best horsey friends on the west side of Kilmore lost a lot of fencing in the fires.