Mr Thurston’s home, untouched in the fire, resembled a shining beacon among the crisply-burnt shrubbery which little more than a week ago grew richly throughout his two-hectare block.
And while the smell of smoke still filled the air when the Gazette visited Mr Thurston last Thursday afternoon, with fire fighters vigilantly tracking hot spots at the back of properties as we chatted, Mr Thurston remained upbeat.
‘What we say in Banjup is that this is our little piece of heaven,’ he said.
‘Heaven will be restored in six months time. I don’t think anybody is going to leave because this is peace, natural. We have neighbours, but we don’t have neighbours,’ he said of his semi-rural property.
Mr Thurston, whose family tracked the fire from their balcony as it stormed towards them last Monday, made the decision to leave about lunchtime.
He admitted to not being too worried, close to certain the fire would miss his home or that fire fighters would bring it under control.
‘You looked at it and you thought ‘the wind is taking the smoke to the south-east, it’s going to pass us’ and ‘the helicopters are working hard, they’re going to get it under control’,’ he said. ‘But after 20 minutes it was clear it was coming this way. The messages were becoming more frequent and we decided to go.’
A few days on, Mr Thurston spoke on behalf of Banjup residents, as vice-president of the Banjup Residents Group, to again thank fire fighters who saved hundreds of homes and Western Power workers who got power back up and running soon after the fire passed through the area.
‘All the residents of Banjup are thrilled with the job that was done and the fact that they saved every house was a magnificent achievement,’ he said.