What would you save?

I noticed her anxious look so I asked if she was ok. There is an Emergency Fire Warning for Mole Creek and Chudleigh, she said.

Serious? This is just half an hour from home. We were at work in Deloraine so like the lady I spoke to, I decided to leave work early and go home.

Smoke from early this morning.
Smoke from early this morning.


There’s been smoke for days. Smoke just hanging in the air like smog or fog or a combination of both. The West Coast of Tasmania has 80 wild fires burning and the smoke is drifting all over the island. We’d slept with the bedroom air conditioner going, but when I walked in to the rest of the house early this morning all I could smell was a stale acrid smell. Smoke. I had to go to Devonport for work so I checked the Tasmanian Fire Service web site. Nope, no fires nearby, all down the West Coast.

Some of the many fires burning in Tasmania right now. So good to see no red warnings and only one yellow.
Some of the many fires burning in Tasmania right now. So good to see no red warnings and only one yellow.  EC is right over Deloraine and means Evacuation Centre.

I was shocked when I heard that there were fires so close to home. They started midday. The smoke was dark, dense and thick on the farm by the time I arrived home just before 4pm.

I tuned the radio in the car to the emergency station on my drive home. Dairy Plains Watch and Act. Dairy Plains??? That’s like 5kms as the crow flies. That’s like…I can see that from home. That’s close!

I called Pauly who was totally oblivious to the warnings but well aware of the close proximity of the fires. He wasn’t worried. (Does this man ever worry???)

Again I checked the warning. Watch and Act. Embers expected in Dairy Plains in two hours. Enact your fire emergency plan now. The fire will be difficult to contain. I heard this on the radio and TV and read it on the web site. I was worried.

I received so many messages from friends asking me if all was ok. I felt loved. But I was still scared.

Smoke at lunch time today.  The Great Western Tiers are shrouded completely.
Smoke about 6:30pm tonight.
Smoke about 6:30pm tonight.

The question is what would you save?

Watch and Act means there is a bit of time. It doesn’t mean evacuate immediately. There was time to think about what I might save.

We live in the middle of farm lands. Lots of paddocks between us and any bush (bush is what Australians call forest or woodland). We don’t really have a fire plan as such. Pauly would direct some irrigators onto the house and we would go to the dairy where the land is clear, there’s lots of cement and there are lots of high pressure hoses. We have a loose plan but I’ve never thought of what I might have to save.

I had time to put a few things in the car just in case.

What did I put in the car?

  1. I got out the cat travel box and a possum trap. We have two cats but only one cat box. A possum trap would’ve done the trick. I covered my back seat with a waterproof (I love my car even in the midst of an emergency I’m going to look after the leather seats!)
  2. I put my baby albums and the two scrap books Louise made for me in the boot.
  3. Oh and I packed a set of running gear, GPS watches, Pauly’s wedding ring AND my makeup! I may become homeless due to a fire but I’m not going without my lipstick.

That’s it.

I'm not sure who would've got the possum trap. I know that both of them would've been equally as unimpressed.
I’m not sure who would’ve got the possum trap (this is a catch and release style trap). I know that both of them would’ve been equally as unimpressed.

I thought about other things. It was only a Watch and Act for the neighbouring area (5kms away) not for ours so I had time to think. But when I thought of things all I could think of was that the most precious things to me are no longer here on the farm. They have flown the nest: Brown eyed Daughter #1 and H, Blondie Daughter #1 and Son #1. The next most important people to save are my beautiful cats Mintie and Poppy who are currently locked inside and wondering what all the fuss is about. I would have to save them. As for Pauly he’s very resilient, if anyone needs saving in this relationship it would be me.

At the end of the day it is the people in my life who are the most important things. We could rebuild everything else but we could never get back a loved one that was lost.

Fire? What fire? Mintie and Poppy.
Fire? What fire? Mintie and Poppy.

No running for me today. Instead much watching and walking around to monitor what’s going on outside.


What would you save if you only had half an hour to think and gather with a car to carry it in?

Happy running 🙂

PS Our Tasmanian Fire Service web site has all the safety information needed on how to be prepared for a bush fire and what to do.  I felt safe knowing that all was being monitored. The updates were regular. A huge big shout out to our Firies, almost all of whom are volunteers in Australia. What would we do without them?

How good it was to see that blue flame - that means 'Advice' and a downgrade from 'Watch and Act'.
How good it was to see that blue flame – that means ‘Advice’ and a downgrade from ‘Watch and Act’.  The warning was also for the little town of Meander where we have done so many marathon training runs.

31 thoughts on “What would you save?

  1. Thought of you today when I saw on Twitter that there were fire warnings in your area.

    Glad to hear all is ok.

    I think one other thing you should pack of you had to evacuate would be your running medals, you definitely can’t leave those behind when you worked so hard for them.

    Take care and stay safe 🙂

    1. Thank you Megan 🙂 I appreciate you thinking of us. I did look at the medals but at the time they didn’t seem like the things to take – Pauly said he would like me to save his Cadbury Marathon 2016 medal and his Bruny Island Ultra medal (and he tells everyone that he doesn’t care about medals)! In hindsight I will be putting my medals in the car…what was I thinking to leave them behind???

  2. Take Care and Be Safe 🙂

    A few years back. My spouse happened to be traveling while I was on high alert as a wild fire came closer and closer to our house. I packed a suitcase, a laundry basket of necessities and a filing box. I carried those three items out to the car and back into the house for a week. I did not want to be caught while at work in the valley with nothing. We had heavy smoke and active embers – it smelled like a campfire in the living room.

    Wildfires are scary because they are unpredictable. I have been in tornadoes, earthquakes, blizzards, tropical storms, etc. All you can do is be prepared and if they tell you to evacuate you should probably go and not wait until you are trapped in an unsafe environment.

  3. This is truly terrifying and if someone has never lived through the anxiety of a close forest fire, they can’t begin to imagine how scary it really is.

    I’m so glad to hear that worst case scenario didn’t materialize.

    The only additional items I would have grabbed are my 2 external hard drives which contain the vast majority of our photos and all the videos of the boys when they were little. I would have tossed them in my purse, ready to go with my wallet.
    … and yes … no question I would grab my make-up 😉

    1. Thanks Joanne 🙂 it’s getting better…still a ways to go. Photos are so important, they are like living active memories. I’m so glad I’m not the only one to think of my makeup as essential hehe 🙂

    1. Oh it’s been touch and go since Tuesday night but not as bad. I feel like I have developed a much better understanding of the warnings…which was good because the ash last night….I was terrified!

  4. I’m so glad the fires stayed away!!! I love that you packed running gear and make-up. I would have found it difficult to decide WHICH running gear and make up to pick, so we’ll done there! 💛💛

    Thinking of you.

  5. Scary to be so close to a big fire. I’m amused that the wardrobe component consisted of lipstick and running shoes! I never leave the house (except for running) without credit cards, phone and my specs. In a fire, as long as the people are out everything else can be replaced. I agree photos are good – not so much for my memories but to pass on to my son😊

    1. The photos were the next important things to my cats. I have three lovely baby albums that pre-date digital photos so if they went that would be it. I really should scan all of them!

  6. I am hoping by the time you read this Annie, the fire threat will be a memory. How frightening ot have it so close to your home!
    As to what we would grab we don’t have any pets and the kids are long gone. When Calgary was flooding in 2013 we decided it was passports, wallets, the external hard drive with photos and that would likely be it.
    Do let us know how things are going in the days ahead.

    1. It was a tough call deciding what to pack. I’ll definitely keep you posted re conditions. It’s looking better all the time with the fires but the smoke is terrible. We have rain forecast for Tuesday so hopefully that will help to douse and wash clean. But shall definitely keep you posted.

      1. Thanks Sue 🙂 the cats don’t seem to be worried at all and neither are the cows. We have a lot of extra wallabies and possums around the house though all flushed out by the fires.

      2. Extra wallabies and possums?! Sad for them but that sounds thrilling to me. 🙂 Was glad ot see the blue skies on your FB post. Hope all is settling now.

      3. You should be here now Sue…there must be an unwelcome possum guest under the house…the hissing has been interesting…makes us giggle. Possums are very territorial and unlike us humans wouldn’t make room for someone made homeless due to an act of nature.

      4. Oh yes I would love to hear it. Do you have skunks in Tasmania? Now those are creatures you don’t want under your buildings and getting irritated!

      5. No skunks fortunately, but sometimes an aged possum decides to pass onto the next world under the house but leaves his earthly remains….we soon know about that!

  7. It’s a hard one, thinking about what to save. I’d collect the photos and hard drives like Sue and other special things maybe. But as you say, the most precious things are people. Hope all has settled down a bit now. Thinking of you!

    1. Thanks Debbie 🙂 we all love our photo memories… they are the things that can’t be replaced especially the pre-digital ones. Things are starting to settle thank you, just terribly smoky!

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