COMMENT

Resident's account of her Bees Nest fire ordeal

Rosie Yates has been living beside the World Heritage forests of Mt Hyland Nature Reserve for almost three decades.

Her 400-hectare retreat Motherland, 43km north west of Dorrigo, is nestled among six types of rainforest and eight open forest communities and is well-known among biologists and ecologists for its magnificent biodiversity.

But a week ago, a fire that began in nearby Guy Fawkes River National Park doubled in size overnight and since then Rosie and her family and friends have been actively trying to defend this precious land she calls home.

Currently over 78,000 hectares in size, with a perimeter of 300km and burning on multiple fronts, the Bees Nest fire has blazed through 123 rural properties so far.

Here, in Rosie's own words (and with her permission), is an account of what it's like to stay and fight.

6 September at 16:14

The fire is now nearly 20,000 ha and out of control, this is what it looks like at my house.

Sept 6 - this is what it looks like at my house

Sept 6 - this is what it looks like at my house

8 September at 08:49

We have had about 1.5 hrs sleep in the last 3 nights, helping out as RFS members. We came in home early this morning after being out on other people's fires all night, expecting the fire at the bottom of our hill to be raging up the hill. I think your prayers and good wishes are helping, thank you. We are hoping for a bulldozer to come this morning to put a containment line in, friends are coming to help. Huge winds are expected today, heading the fire toward us.

8 September at 12:18

A welcome sight, just arrived, I think we will be okay.

Sept 8 - A welcome sight

Sept 8 - A welcome sight

9 September at 01:27

Got a bit of sleep, it is about 1am and there is a huge red glow towards Dundurrabin. Bad news for the community. The wind is very strong, Barry and our new best friend the bulldozer driver, Brendan is here. The fire crews are all needed elsewhere, this fire is like no other, it is consuming everything. Thank you to Geoff Bowan the owner of the bulldozer for bringing it in for us.

We have done our best to prepare with the help of Barry Hicks, Laith Cusack. Katie Crane and Noam Blat. Thank you all.

The bore pump is going and the tank has water. The flames are on the way up the hill, all the hut area will be gone, the fire will be at the house by morning. It is also coming from the west all though the World Heritage lands, untold loss - catastrophic. We cannot see any flames from the west over the mountain yet, just the glow. It is on the other side of the mountain and there are no tracks between there and here. National Parks have a large dozer there, and they know we are here.

We have rainforest on the north and west. Brendan has bulldozed in the direction of the southern fire. He will be able to extinguish flames as the flames come into the clearing. If the houses go we will take refuge in the cars on a bulldozed pad, near to the rainforest. We expect it will trickle through the rainforest. We have spoken to a couple of National Parks guys, who came in this afternoon, they agree it is the safest place to refuge if the houses go. They too think we will be ok with the clearing, if we thought we would not make it we would have gone by now. Barry, Brendon and myself are all experienced with fire. For me 30 years experience.

9 September at 10:46

Our phone is out, and I cannot receive messages through the mobile. The mobile does not work here. The internet is still working and Messenger is still working for now. Thank you for all your love and support.

Katie Crane my daughter is taking care of essential messages. We are okay, just preparing.

9 September at 18:18

This is what it looks like here this evening, I think all will be well ... while Barry Hicks was here helping out his place burnt.

Our phone is back on.

Tomorrow will be a huge day, the fire is coming from all directions.

Sept 9 -This is what it looks like here this evening

Sept 9 -This is what it looks like here this evening

9 September at 20:54

To the west, the fire is just coming over Mt Hyland, World Heritage country. There are no tracks to stop it between there and here, maybe the fire will arrive here tomorrow or when it wants.

The fire is coming up the hill to the south and is about 400m from here, to the east it is burning and will impact us tomorrow. Both sides of Chaelundi road are alight, the hut is gone. To the north we are going to have to backburn tomorrow. Fires all around us, tomorrow will be a big day. Laith, Barry and Brendan the bulldozer driver are here tonight. Hopefully some fire trucks will come. Today we had a visitor in a helicopter. The winds are howling. It is good to be alive.

10 September at 08:19

(via Mark Graham) Another message from Rosemary: To the south the fires are on both sides of the road about 400m away so impact today from south and east ... The flames are over the mountain but quiet, not much wind. We have no water, hopefully fire crews will come through, they know the situation..The bulldozer driver is the very best we could wish for, he is here now brushing up Obeloe Rd. Laith and Barry are around ... we are all ok and ready.

10 September at 12:51

(via Mark Graham) Just spoke to Barry. All is okay. Everyone is fine and no property damage. Although not over yet (there are still active fire fronts approaching), he is confident that they have now made it through okay.

11 September at 07:03

The winds have quietened, the fires are close but so much slower now. We are yet to be impacted by the fire on the eastern and northern sides, but because it is rainforest country it is slowly trickling through in most places. The fires are very close to the house. To the south it is just behind the house but we have back burned away from the house. To the west it is much slower than a couple of days ago. There are no tracks for protection but we are working on one for ourselves and for a wildlife sanctuary because they have just lost their food and habitat, some may be able to survive this, let's hope so. Our house is well prepared, RFS came by yesterday and filled up our water tanks.

All is well at home, we have done a lot of firebreaks, and hazard protection around the buildings, with bare dirt all around. Everyone is going well and got some sleep last night, Barry, Brendon, Kelsey and Todd came home from Tasmania yesterday to help, Laith and Noam are here.

Sept 11 - Everyone is going well and got some sleep last night

Sept 11 - Everyone is going well and got some sleep last night

11 September at 07:21

Brendon Andrews dozer driver has been extraordinary, this is a picture of him, if you see him around give him a hug, shake his hand, buy him a drink. He has an 8 week old baby and he chose to hang in here with us to make us safe ... incredible. Thanks also to Geoff Bowen the owner of the dozer who deployed him here, bless you all.

Sept 11 - Brendon Andrews dozer driver has been extraordinary

Sept 11 - Brendon Andrews dozer driver has been extraordinary

11 September at 13:57

Barry's home and chickens are safe. Unbelievable, a miracle really. The forest is completely burnt with an extremely hot fire. His brother's caravan is burnt out, his neighbour's shed is gone, and Barry is OK, even his shadehouse is only partly burnt. The one with all the rainforest seedlings is not able to be reached at the moment so we will see. I got to say this is absolutely amazing that this fire went around him. He just went over to have a look, you should have seen the delight on his face when he returned to tell us the news. He is out again now with the rake hoe trying to put out the fire in the rainforest.

12 September at midday

The fires are now about 80,000 ha. Friends are now in the rainforest about 100m out front of house trying to put out fires from spreading over Obeloe Rd, the dozer is still cutting in tracks for firebreaks and I am about to make lunch for everyone. National Parks are just about to light up on the other side of Mt Hyland so it is going to get very smoky soon.

The winds are going to get strong again later today.