Houses saved by a whisker

Frank Thatcher and the damage to the veranda of his Batlow home, which shows how closely the fire came to claiming the house.

Batlow resident Frank Thatcher has recalled how close he came to losing his home in Saturday’s inferno.

Mr Thatcher was sitting on his front veranda at Batlow Avenue, watching over his neighbour’s house and other homes on the other side of the street, (some of whose owners had gone to Gundagai) which where at the fire’s mercy.

“I was having a beer, and keeping an eye on my mate’s place, and I didn’t see an ember land on the mattress of the seat I was sitting,” he said.

Realising his home and indeed his life were in danger, he hurled the mattress on to his front lawn, where it burnt up.

His battle, however, had just begun.

“I noticed part of the veranda was on fire,” he said.

Part of the roof was also burning.

“We had no water pressure here so I ran out of water. I had some clothes that I was going to take down to donate to St Vincent de Paul, so I started flogging the fire with them. It didn’t work; it more or less fanned the flames.”

Fortunately, fire crews were nearby and quickly extinguished the flames.

“This is an old place so it was lucky it was saved,” he said.

He feared for his dogs, which were inside the house for their own safety.

Much of his front lawn was burnt, and almost the entire front lawn of his next door neighbour’s home burnt up (including a tall tree), stopping just short of the house itself.

Across the road sheds, fences and parts of homes were burnt, but many homes miraculously saved.

Mr Thatcher, like so many others, is enormously grateful to firefighters for what they have done.

“The firies did a magnificent job,” he said.

“They have also been checking on me all morning.”

Things are tough in Batlow at the moment for Mr Thatcher, but he is thankful that he, his dogs and most of his house are fine.