'A fire tornado ripped down the driveway'
MEZ Bursle and her husband came home from work early on Friday afternoon with the intention to grab the dogs from their Whiteman Creek property and get to safe ground, but a decision to stay back and fight for their home could have been what saved it.
"If I hadn't found the fire when I did, if crews didn't respond how they did, we wouldn't have a house. It wouldn't take long to engulf anything," Ms Bursle said.
On Saturday morning the couple had prepared the property and knew what do to in the event of an emergency.
"I woke up in the morning and did the normal things, then the smoke started to get really thick," Ms Bursle said.
"The fire brigade came and checked on us, I checked the perimeters and I said, 'we're all good'."
Fifteen minutes later, Ms Bursle saw ash falling from the sky, she ran outside and down a track metres from her home to find flames threateningly close.
Fortunately, the couple had cleared the perimeter of the property which kept the blaze at bay and gave firefighters time to get to the scene.
"Then it just took off; it was like a fire tornado ripped down the driveway," Ms Bursle said.
"We had five crews here trying to battle that and stop it from getting the neighbours.
"Then I noticed a plume of smoke coming from up the back.
" I went up and had a look and this giant wall of fire was heading straight towards the house."
Flames came within 100m of the home Ms Bursle's father, who now lived with the couple, had built with the help of her brothers.
"We've (the couple) have had it for three years, it's a really significant thing in our family," she said.
"When I was a baby there was a fire, Mum got us kids out, but it has never come this close before.
"There is not much you can do except trust the RFS...I knew that they were doing to everything they could."
At the time of print the area remained under threat, with parts of Greberts Rd inaccessible due to the fires.
After an exhausting 24 hours, Ms Bursle thanked the crews which attended the scene and continued to check on her property until 4am.
"I don't think people realise most of these volunteers have full-time jobs, they have families," she said.
This story was published one year ago today, marking the start of the Clarence Valley's 2019 horror bushfire season.