Norm’s lucky bushfire escape
AS an unstoppable wall of 18-metre high flames came roaring towards his home, Norm Timms only had enough time to race inside and grab one thing - his wife - before fleeing.
The Bungundarra resident's story is no exaggeration and the charred top of the karri pine tree standing just metres from and on the approach to his Mount Rae Road house is proof.
"On Saturday afternoon I could see smoke over towards the Cobraball Road area and then I saw the hill on fire (to the south-east)," Mr Timms recalled.
The next thing the 76-year-old knew, a policeman was pulling up at the front of his property and telling him to leave straight away.
Mr Timms' son Russell tried to race down the back and get the family's pet pig out of the pen but he couldn't make it there due to the intensity of the flames.
"My grandkids call the pig Bacon Sandwich - I expected to come back to see him pork crackle," Mr Timms said.
"We went straight to my daughter's place at Bondoola and I said to Lyn (wife): 'Don't expect to see the house again'.
"Because the way those flames were, hey, and the heat, I expected to see the whole bloody lot gone - I expected to come back to see nothing but charred metal."
Amazingly the bushfire tore through the Timms' property and continued on its devastating path - but like something from a far-fetched movie script it strategically went around their house and other structures including the pig and chook pens.
"Yeah, we've still got Bacon Sandwich," Mr Timms said.
The fire burnt out everything on its approach to the fence line and stopped just short of a boat with an outboard motor and about 25 litres of fuel.
It's not the first time the Timms family has had a lucky escape.
During Cyclone Marcia in 2015, which crossed the coast near Shoalwater Bay, several large trees came down around their home - none landed on it or the nearby structures.
When asked if he was blessed, Mr Timms replied: "Well I tell you what, when we built this house 30 years ago, our local priest came and blessed it, so he's done a bloody good job.
"We're very fortunate.
"Some people haven't got houses to go home to - it's them I feel sorry for and that's what annoys me.
"Okay, if the fire started because of a lightning strike or something, that's nature, you can't do anything about that.
"But to be deliberately lit is a different thing."
Despite all that he's been through, Mr Timms has maintained his sense of humour.
His son's "project" Holden V8 Commodore parked at the front of the house was completely destroyed by the fire as it tore through.
"He should still be able to sell it because it's only done one burnout," Mr Timms said.
And then there was this.
"My wife's 75, it was her birthday the other day, on the 11th.
"She said she didn't want a cake because we'd need a permit to put 75 candles on it."
Mr Timms can afford to smile and he also admits he should buy a lotto ticket.