Alice Strutt said she is lucky her home is still standing after the Carrai East fire tore through communities west of Kempsey over the past week.
The RFS Captain of Communications Brigade in Kempsey has dealt with a number of bushfires during her 38 years with the RFS, but none have hit home like this one.
Alice had been working night shifts at the Kempsey RFS Control Centre and was asleep on Friday afternoon at her home in Temagog. She was woken up at 1.30pm and saw the thick black cloud of smoke heading towards her property.
"All I could see was a big black cloud of smoke and I knew the fire had jumped Armidale Rd and was heading towards my place. I just grabbed everything and got in the car," Alice said.
"When I was leaving my property, I could see the fire breathing, it was moving from side to side and I just picked the right time to drive out of the driveway, out onto the road and to Kempsey."
Alice drove straight to the RFS Control Centre where she was comforted by her fellow brigade members.
"I was terrified of it coming to my house.
"You know, I've calmed many people down when their homes were under threat from fire over the years, but I didn't think I would be as worried as I was on Friday. Inspector Belinda Devine calmed me down with a cup of tea and a hug," Alice said.
Alice was one of the lucky ones, the fire reached her property and destroyed her fences, but her house was saved.
"I have done so much work over the years to prepare my property for bushfire, digging containment lines and making sure if there was a fire, it wouldn't damage too much.
Even though Alice was well prepared, she said it was still a stressful time for her.
"It was very stressful, but I'm lucky there wasn't more damage."
The past few weeks have been tough for many residents, as well as local RFS crews. Alice said everyone is trying to get some rest while they can.
"I organise the rosters for the communications team, so I've got to make sure everyone isn't tired and is able to be out there working," she said.
"The whole crew have been stressed over the last couple of weeks. We've just got to make sure we all get a break and have time for sleep."
There are still out of area strike teams providing relief for local crews and the RFS has had critical support services at the Kempsey Control Centre.
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