Dondingalong fires | VIDEO AND PHOTOS

Richard and Elizabeth Bibby were given two minutes to evacuate their Dondingalong home when a bush fire came at them on Sunday.

The couple’s property on Pipers Creek Road was threatened when the 350 hectare fire that began at 3pm changed directions around 7pm.

“When the wind changed to a southerly we saw smoke and ash coming towards us and knew it was getting bad,” Mr Bibby said. “At that point we felt quite unsafe due to the density of smoke. We looked at the temperature outside our home and it was 49.9 degrees.”

“We’d packed up our photos and important documents earlier – luckily we don’t have any animals.

“We knew there was no way we could stay so we hooked everything up and got ready to leave. Then the police came and told us to be out in two minutes, and we were ready.”

Mr and Mrs Bibby, who stayed with their daughter in Kempsey, were relieved to find their property safe on Monday morning. 

“The easterly wind wasn’t predicted so were were pretty worried,” he said. “We had hundreds of people praying for us and received calls from as far away as New Zealand and Western Australia.”

NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Lower North Coast Superintendent Lachlann Ison confimed that one home was lost in the Dondingalong fire, with the total loss of property and livestock yet to be ascertained.

“A number of sheds and livestock were possibly lost,” Mr Ison said. “We have a team of investigotors  gathering information.”

“We are also investigating the source of the fire, which we believe may have been a faulty device in a shed.”

Mr Ison said the fire was exacerbated by a number of factors.

“We knew that fire conditions would be severe because of the drought, the wind and the lack of humidity,” he said. “All these elements aligned to produce extreme fire behavior.”

Mr Ison said over 25 fire trucks and 100 fire service personnel from Kempsey and Nambucca were working on containing the fire. Fire crews on the ground were supported by six aircraft.

“Crews were on the fire all night and strike force teams from Coffs Harbour have come down to help us establish full containment around the edge of the fire,” he said. 

“Over the next week, residents may notice fire crews preparing tracks and conducting backburning.  Our aim is for containment prior to the next phase of warm weather predicted for later in the week.”