A Rose River couple are bracing for a second weekend of perilous weather conditions at their farm just a short distance from the western border of the Abbeyard bushfire near Dandongadale.
On Wednesday, Brooke Strahan drove her packed car and two dogs towards Moyhu, leaving her husband Nathan to care for their property and livestock which includes a herd of miniature goats and Scottish Highland cattle.
She said Forest Fire Management Victoria had been on site during the day with machinery putting a firebreak around the house, something they really appreciated, and that Nathan would leave too if a notice to evacuate was issued.
“They are putting a firebreak around all the properties in the Rose River community which is great, because every little bit helps,” she said.
“I’m definitely a little scared, but we’re doing what we can and there’s a level of acceptance that it is what it is, and we’re certainly not the only ones affected.
“This goes way beyond this area, and across multiple states.
”The couple is using water from a bore to wet down the house continuously and say so far their animals appeared to be coping with the smoky and stressful conditions.
They are lucky enough to still have grass in their paddocks and Lucerne in their shed, so food supply isn’t an issue, unlike those near Mount Buffalo who lost a lot of their grazing land when the fire went through.
Brooke was thankful to the local emergency services for the regular updates and community meetings provided, and also praised the Vic Emergency App which she said in her experience was great.
“Some people at the meetings were saying that it’s not up to date, but my mum is in Nowra, and I can tell you that compared to the New South Wales equivalent, it’s much better,” she said.
“The Vic Emergency App is clear, they keep it as up to date as it can, and they tell you when it will be updated next, unless the situation changes.
“They’ve also had trouble getting exact information because of the smoke conditions – it’s not safe to get aircraft up in the sky – and there’s nothing anyone can do about that.
“As soon as visibility improved I could see surveillance aircraft up there, which helped them get a better idea of fire size and progression.”
Brooke said she has been coughing a bit from the thick smoke – at one point it was so bad she only had 10 metres of visibility – but using safety goggles and a scarf was some help.
Having been on a ‘watch and act’ all week, she made the decision to leave in case conditions deteriorate, with the weather and a wind change forecast indicating an evacuation notice may be issued today.
She said she was being cautious, but not overly anxious, and was lucky to have family and friends near Wangaratta she can stay with.
“We’ve just got to wait and see and hope for the best,” she said.