When Grandfather Rob Saunders When he woke up on Sunday morning he realized that something was not right.
Brigolong resident smells smoke as bushfires rage in Victoria’s Gippsland region Just after 7 in the morning.
“I wasn’t sure where the smoke was coming from, but then I walked out the door and the whole bushland was on fire,” Saunders said.
He ran back inside, called Triple Zero and woke up his wife.
The couple, who had returned from a holiday in Thailand just a week ago, faced the loss of their nine-year-old home.
“I had time to catch the cat, the dog and the clothes I was wearing,” he said.
The pair left and by 10:30 a.m., Saunders said his phone informed him that the house had lost power.
“I thought, ‘This is not good’,” he said.
At 5.30 in the evening he got the bad news that his house had caught fire.
An hour later, he arrived with his daughter Lily Saunders to survey the damage.
“I walked up the hill, didn’t want to drive up the driveway and then we saw the bungalow was still standing,” Rob said.
“We turned the corner and it was just…devastation.
“Everything else is gone. Everything we had is gone.”
The off-grid mudbrick home was a haven for the family, where many memories were made.
“This place is everything, it’s our home, it’s our escape, our cool place,” Lily said.
Saunders is urging Australians to be prepared for this wildfire season and have a wildfire plan.
“Stay alert, have your fire plan ready and get out if you don’t have time,” he said.
“I think if I had slept for another hour, I wouldn’t be here right now, I wouldn’t have been able to get out.
“It was unbelievable how strong the wind was and how quickly the fire spread.”
The Briagolong fire consumed his home and destroyed more than 5000 hectares of land.
Fire brigades are struggling to control the perimeter of 42 kilometres.
Yesterday emergency services were battling strong wind gusts of more than 90km/h.
The outbreak in Rawson is still smoldering, while the grass fire at Loch Sport is expected to spread out to sea.
However, a change is coming, which is expected to bring new challenges to emergency services, particularly the threat of flooding across the state.
Bureau of Meteorology senior meteorologist Christy Johnson said the Gippsland fires were expected to bring 30mm to 50mm of rain, coupled with strong winds.
Victoria State Emergency Services operations officer Tim Wiebusch said the rain posed a risk of minor to moderate or “potentially major flooding”, and crews were being put on alert.
Jason Heffernan, chief officer of the Country Fire Authority, said: “Fire agencies are working proactively in advance of challenging conditions for the future.
Firefighters have battled 220 bush and grass fires across the state since Saturday.
“We’ve gone out and evacuated some campers, evacuated them from the camping grounds,” Rawson incident controller Jonathan Wood said Sunday.