Batlow braces for fire

Aurora Ahola watering roof gutters yesterday in Batlow.

Batlow residents intending to stay to defend their homes from fire, despite warnings from the RFS that the town is not defendable, are again being urged to go.

The RFS is forecasting conditions to deteriorate this afternoon and only get worse tomorrow when high temperatures and strong north-westerly winds arrive.

They’ve predicted the town could be impacted by fire later today.

Most of the town left yesterday when the town was declared a leave zone, but some remain.

Aurora Ahola and Jay Tremlow are siblings who have made their way to Batlow from Sydney to help their grand parents, Mina and Esko Keinanen.

They intend to leave before conditions worsen tomorrow, and are urging others to follow suit.

“We’re in Batlow at the moment purely because my grand parents have been in Batlow for decades,” Ms Ahola said.

“We came down on New Year’s and we haven’t stopped helping residents keep their properties safe.

“We have cleared gutters, removed branches and helped others wet their properties down; some of those have helped keep our property safe too.”

Ahola, who has experienced fighting bushfires in Sydney, was amazed by the attitude of Batlow citizens and acknowledged how hard the small town had been working.

“Everyone is doing their bit and even though we all know the town might go down, we are pushing on and working for each other,” she said.

The siblings are continuing their efforts, hoping they can help others leave town before it is too late.

“There are people in town determined to stay and even though it’s hard to see a positive outcome, we just have to help and do our part,” Ms Ahola said.

The pair, who travelled up from Kellyville on New Years Eve, were astonished by Batlow’s resilience, admitted they had their own concerns.

“The town is certainly working hard together,” Ms Ahola said.

Ahola stressed that the fires they were facing could very easily turn out to be as dangerous as expected.

“These fires are not something to be taken lightly, if the fire comes back around on us like they are expected to, this place will be hell,” Ms Ahola said.

Aurora Ahola (middle) with Anthony and Darren Shaw

Ms Ahola had a couple of messages for those who were defending properties in Batlow.

“Get the hell out when you can, you don’t want to be in the inner circle of hell come Saturday, it isn’t worth being here,” she said.

“Houses can be rebuilt, farms can be reestablished but the people are irreplaceable.”