MY HERO: Kuta was by Brooke Joe's side throughout her fire emergency ordeal at Ramornie.
MY HERO: Kuta was by Brooke Joe's side throughout her fire emergency ordeal at Ramornie. Brooke Joe

STRANDED: Woman trapped as fire surrounds property

AN OUT of control bushfire quickly escalated into a full- scale emergency that left Ramornie resident Brooke Joe scrambling for her life.

The mother of two was home alone late Tuesday afternoon when conditions took a turn for the worst and the Purgatory Creek bushfire started to threaten her rural property west of Grafton.

NSW Rural Fire Service issued an Emergency Warning for the area, and around the same time Ms Joe grabbed some essential items, hopped in her car and attempted to leave along her driveway.

But it was too late.

"The westerly hit hard and suddenly I just saw fire bombs all over the place," Ms Joe said as she described the scene that unfolded in front of her.

READ MORE: Fire crews work to bring Purgatory Ck blaze under control

"It happened so quick that by the time I went to drive out the driveway it was too late.

"I got trapped in here. It was a pretty scary situation."

With no safe passage to escape, Ms Joe grabbed some documents and, accompanied by her dog Kuta, ran down to a creek to hide from the fire.

"I was actually frightened, and when I felt trapped I did panic. I just thought 'well, I'm stuck now'.

"My dog was the only thing keeping me calm. That was my saving grace. With all the panic and adrenalin, you just don't know.

"He's the hero. He helped me. He was like a bloody service dog."

After her initial "flight" response proved futile, Ms Joe's instincts to stay and fight soon kicked in, and she returned to the house.

"I watched it for a bit and thought 'I'm screwed either way', so I ran up to the house and put all the hoses on," she said.

"Things were starting to smoulder around the gutters and the shed."

Ms Joe saw a helicopter overhead and was relieved when it came down to land.

 

LUCKY ESCAPE: Ramornie resident Brooke Joe was evacuated by helicopter after an out of control bushfire quickly escalated into an emergency situation at her property late Tuesday afternoon.
LUCKY ESCAPE: Ramornie resident Brooke Joe was evacuated by helicopter after an out of control bushfire quickly escalated into an emergency situation at her property late Tuesday afternoon. Brooke Joe

"I'm so lucky they even saw me," she said.

"When the firies turned up they told me I had to get out now. They told me to get into the helicopter."

FIRE ESCAPE: Ramornie resident Brooke Joe was evacuated by helicopter as fires threatened her property.
FIRE ESCAPE: Ramornie resident Brooke Joe was evacuated by helicopter as fires threatened her property. Brooke Joe

Ms Joe wouldn't leave without her dog, and the helicopter took Ms Joe and Kuta to an evacuation point on the Gwydir Highway at Main Creek near Jackadgery.

"Kuta was with me the whole night," Ms Joe said.

"I'm just glad I didn't have my kids at home. I just don't know how I'd have coped."

Ramornie residents, including Brooke Joe and her dog Kuta, congregate at the evacuation point at Main Creek near Jackadgery as fire threatened properties late Tuesday, 8th October, 2019.
Ramornie residents, including Brooke Joe and her dog Kuta, congregate at the evacuation point at Main Creek near Jackadgery as fire threatened properties late Tuesday, 8th October, 2019. Frank Redward

When she returned to the property, she was amazed it was still standing, and was assessing the damage yesterday morning.

"We're so lucky. Really, really lucky. I don't know how it's still here.

"This morning I walked down the hall picking up bits of charcoal. I don't even know how it got in the house."

Perhaps it was her awareness of the need to have a fire plan in place that saved the property.

"We've always been big on reducing fuel loads around the property," she said.

READ MORE: 'I've lost everything': Bushfires rip through 30 NSW homes

"Where it got me was in the garden, because I'm a big gardener and had mulch which was sparking up and smouldering from the heat.

"Thank God we brought water in about three weeks prior because we ran out of tank water.

"I've always kept my house as clean and fireproof as I could. But looking at the heights of the flames, you're pretty useless. You just don't know what to do.

"Thank god for the RFS."

While the firefront had moved on, the danger from the fire was still very apparent.

"Now is really scary. We're hearing trees crashing everywhere," she said.

The fire threat continued on Wednesday with aerial and ground crews fighting to save neighbouring properties.



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