‘Thank you, thank you so very much’
As the Cap Coast fires started last Saturday morning and smoke began appearing over distant hills, Carla Sikes had no idea that in a matter of hours, she would be fleeing her house and preparing for the worst.
Carla and her family's house was fortunately spared thanks to the quick decisions of rural fire crews who stayed to defend their home.
They watched the flames approach her home from a distance as a team from The Caves Fire Service fought tooth and nail to stop the inferno.
Here is her story.
We could see the smoke off into the distance over Cobraball Saturday morning and were concerned for friends and their families who live out that way, never at that point did it cross my mind the events that would follow.
It was about 2pm that we decided to do a little clean-up around the property and have the sprinklers going just by the off chance we would be affected, still at this point I was not overly concerned.
We had family and friends who came over just to lend a hand if we needed.
We are situated on top of a hill along Preston Rd and we are surrounded by 25 acres of thick bushland, we can see the flames burning at the top of the trees getting closer and closer to Limestone Creek Rd, from there it all seemed to go so quickly.
Family had gone down to our friends' place along Limestone Creek Rd to see if they needed anything or help and at that point there was a whirlwind storm that ripped through the fire and sent it in all directions, and it was headed our way.
When I came to actually realise that my home was in danger and being warned by the SES to prepare to evacuate, I had a 15-minute window of time to get whatever I could from home and flee.
As I stood inside my home and looked around, I was in a state of disbelief, I couldn't think straight, all I could hear were sirens and the smoke was getting thicker.
I ended up grabbing photo albums, our computer and our son's birthday present as he was turning 12 the next day.
I managed to get our massive dog into my car, and I left, not knowing if that was going to be the last time I stood inside my home.
As I made it to the bottom of the driveway, I was met by police advising me to go and don't turn back.
Myself along with my mother-in-law Helen, brother- in-law Rob and friend Kristan moved cars from the bottom of our place up the road towards Adelaide Park Rd intersection where we stayed for close to an hour.
My partner Mick and his father Terry stayed at the property to do what they could, but the fire was too big, too dangerous, too fast moving that police strongly advised them to go.
As we waited along the side of the road, the amazing water bombing helicopters and planes started flying over my home and dumping water on it, they did this for about 30-40 minutes. I was shocked, I thought positive because I knew they were attempting to save my place, but I thought negative because of how close the fire was to my home.
All we could see was thick black smoke bellowing from behind the hill at my place.
A fire engine full of fire fighters from The Caves Rural Fire Brigade were the first on the scene at my place.
They stayed there for three hours and fought the fire from my home.
I seriously can't put the words together to express how extremely thankful I am to them.
Jono from the Caves Rural Fire Brigade made the comment that the water bombers were on the money with every shot at my place, so to the pilots of the helicopters and planes. to the firefighters I say thank you, thank you so very much.
I had received videos and concerned text messages from friends saying that they didn't believe I would have a home to come back to and from watching the videos I honestly thought the same.
I was told at about 11.30pm Saturday night that my home was untouched by the fire, everywhere else was burnt.
It's just so unbelievable.
I wasn't allowed to get back home until Wednesday and when I arrived at my driveway it didn't look or even feel like my place.
I could see things now that before I didn't know existed.
My heart goes out to everyone who lost their homes, sheds, livestock and personal items.
It's just devastating. Jono and Clark from the Caves Rural Fire Brigade left a note on my door saying they fought the fire from my place and they wanted to get in contact with me to show me footage from their end of things - it was scarily amazing.
The boys even popped in again to touch base on Thursday before having to go out and fight the fires again.
I just feel that they have really gone above and beyond, and I want to share my thanks and appreciation to Jono, Clark, Anthony and Steven from the Caves Rural Fire Brigade - you guys in our eyes are heroes.