Australia’s Black Summer was like no other, with the bushfires that raged across the nation leaving many of us overwhelmed and in disbelief at the devastation they caused. During this extraordinary time, stories of the heroes doing battle on the frontline emerged.
As members of the Bawley Point Rural Fire Brigade, Karina and Peter Franke spent endless days battling the monstrous Currowan fires that ravaged thousands of hectares on the New South Wales South Coast.
It was literally a baptism of fire for the couple who had only recently answered the call for new brigade volunteers.
“We didn’t realise that literally six months into being in the brigade we would be faced by the worst bushfires our country has ever seen,” Karina says.
Their crew battled against 50 metre flames, fanned by gusty winds that engulfed the bush and threatened nearby properties.
At times they were left defending homes in the dark, with reduced visibility as a thick blanket of bushfire smoke descended around them.
“It’s hard to describe the noise and the smoke. In some areas you couldn’t see five metres in front of you – except for a bit of a red glow,” Peter says.
“You didn’t have time to think so as far as preparation goes, I don’t think anything could prepare you for what we saw. Your training just kicks in and you get on with it.
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