“Please stay safe today guys. Make sure your phones are charged and check them every now and then for messages.”
That was the first message I received yesterday morning from my father, as he warned me to stay away from the family home at Jordan Springs in Sydney’s west.
Just 8km away one of many active bushfires across the state was burning and everyone had been told they may need to evacuate.
November 12, 2019, was the day of a first-ever catastrophic weather warning in Sydney.
We were warned temperature would reach the high 30s and the winds would pump up to 90kph – and they did.
With over 80 fires around NSW reaching the point of emergency, the firies had no time to rest. Across the border in Queensland the situation was just as bad, if not worse.
Though the heat of the day was uncomfortable yet bearable, what everyone feared most was the anticipated southerly wind change last night.
As if the images we saw live-streamed throughout the day on commercial channels in constant breaking news were not enough, the fire brigade had made it very clear we would not be safe even past 8pm.
For families and communities like mine who live a mere 8km away from where the Fourth Avenue fire in Llandilo roared, the wait for the signal to evacuate was almost as painful as making the decision of what to pack in your one emergency backpack to flee with.
Anxieties ran high into the night with our bags by the door and every member of the household constantly checking their Fires Near Me app.
Thankfully for my family all is well and the fire is under control now, but for many, that is not the case.
At the time of writing this over 15 fires were reportedly out of control on the east coast and the border between NSW and Queensland.
Although the west has significantly cleared up, north-east NSW and southern Queensland have had no respite.
Stay safe everyone.
Main image by Bert Knottenbeld/Flickr.