I have a brother living in Stone- ville and my ears pricked up.
Later that scorching Sunday we hear their street, Grenville Road, mentioned. We have been trying to make contact to ascertain their safety and wellbeing.
A crackling and interrupted conversation confirms that they have evacuated to Brown Park Recreation Centre in Swan View. They left in such a hurry that their mobile phone chargers are still in the house, along with every one of their mementoes and possessions.
We are thankful that they are in a safe place.
In the car and off to Brown Park to assist with family support. On arrival, the whole place is an absolute hive of volunteer and community activity.
Food and drinks are available and people stream in with donations of clothing, food and toiletries. This is an amazing experience of West Australians rallying to support each other.
After several anxious days, reports are filtering through of the number and location of homes lost to the horrendous blaze.
Almost a dozen homes are lost in the Ayres Road and Grenville Road area.
My brother and his wife are staying with us and they hear that their home may have survived, but there is nothing official yet.
On Wednesday morning we attend the regular fire briefing session at the very busy evacuation centre.
After applying for and being granted a permit to enter what is now deemed the ‘warm zone’, we drive in to Stoneville in a very sombre mood.
As we arrive, the blackened and charred remains of this previously scenic Hills suburb are extremely distressing. Homes, sheds, property totally destroyed.
On the corner of Grenville and Ayres roads, the house of my brother’s neighbour is totally destroyed after years of toiling on a complete renovation.
But No 4 Grenville Road is untouched, standing among blackened trees, shrubs and lawn.
Surrounded by devastation, this is my brother’s home.
My brother and his wife are able to move back in. Next door at No 6 are three burnt-out cars, but the house is still standing.
On the streets, work is feverish to replace power poles and restore electricity to homes. Power is restored by January 17.
The Australian spirit is strong.
Without our fire services, including the fleet of water bombers, this disaster would have been more catastrophic. It is our belief that it was a water bomber that saved many homes, including my brother’s property. They were among the fortunate few in Stoneville.
A massive thank you seems insufficient praise to all the agencies and volunteers who assisted and are continuing to assist at this time.