THE Millingandi bush fire that broke out south of Wolumla on Friday afternoon raged through 215 hectares destroying two houses, threatening numerous properties including Potoroo Palace animal sanctuary.
Southerly conditions hit Merimbula airport at around 3pm bringing blustery conditions and changing the fire direction.
Some residents refused to be evacuated saying they had their own Bush Fire Safety Plans.
Among the local RFS brigades tasked to the scene was the Bermagui brigade, which sent its Cat 7 appliance with volunteers Tim Holdsworth, Steph Lazzaro and Kate Fitzpatrick on board.
According to Ms Fitzpatrick, the house that Bermagui crew found itself protecting in the immediate aftermath of the fire had been saved by water bombing but also due to the hard work and preparation of its owner.
“The fire came within one driveway’s width of the front veranda but the owner had done such a great job of clearing any vegetation from around the house, and we reckon that is what saved it,” she said.
The house on Forest Lane was only just down the road from one of the houses that was totally destroyed.
Since then, more crews from the Narooma district have been sent down to help with the mopping up and containment as well as command duties.
John Marsh from Potoroo Palace explained that at 2.30pm on Friday, a police visit alerted staff at the native animal education sanctuary to the impending danger of the approaching fire and given 20 minutes to evacuate the premises.
“Everyone sprang into action and immediately began the animal evacuation. Staff rescued the animals they could and rendezvoused in Merimbula anxiously awaiting news of the fate of Potoroo Palace and organizing overnight accommodation for our evacuated animals.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you to the brave and selfless members of the Rural Fire Service.
“Your efforts kept the animals and everything at Potoroo Palace safe and free from harm.
“Staff and volunteers returned to Potoroo Palace on Saturday morning not knowing what to expect and fearing the worst.
“Imagine our relief at walking around and finding no signs of injury to any of our animals or any damage to anything within Potoroo Palace. We were all amazed and oh so very thankful.
“The huge number of messages of encouragement and support for Potoroo Palace has been wonderful and helps reinforce our belief that Potoroo Palace truly belongs to our community.”