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With a bushfire burning 18 kilometres from her Canberra, Australia home, Tracey Shirran Parker was ready to evacuate if necessary on Monday night.
“They’re saying you need to have your bushfire plan up and ready,” she said of advisories being issued by the rural fire service.
“We’ve actually got everything in the car.”
Canberra is part of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) in the state of New South Wales.
Parker, a native of Corner Brook, has lived there for about 28 years.
For the past few months her family has been on alert as bushfires ravage the country.
“Oh, my God, my nerves is gone,” she said in typical Newfoundland fashion, as she spoke of what’s been happening.
Just over two weeks ago the fire closest to her was about 35 kilometres away, and danger had seemed to lessen in the following days.
“I was starting to feel a bit at ease,” she said.
The amount of smoke in the air had decreased and she thought things were returning to normal.
“But not so.”
Last Thursday a fire now under control in Canberra led to the evacuation of two suburbs. Parker thought there would be no real worries until later this week when temperatures are expected to soar into the 40s.
“That would mean that our fire ratings would go up. Maybe around that time we’ll have something more to worry about.”
“If it changes to an emergency level we won’t stick around.” Tracey Shirran Parker
But the fires have reached the national park, and the area where they live backs onto the park.
The closest one started Monday at 2:30 p.m. Australian time and covered about 20 hectares. By 11:30 p.m. it had grown to 1,735 hectares.
“And it’s out of control.”
The embers are travelling about five kilometres ahead of the fire and the fire service has told people to be on the watch and ready to act.
She said one town on the outskirts of the city is already on alert and people can evacuate if they want.
The roads past her home leading to the national park are now closed.
The fire service has said it can’t promise a fire truck on every street if things get really bad.
All that combined has Parker feeling stressed.
With her husband Darryl Parker recovering from an illness, she enlisted her daughter’s boyfriend to help her load the family’s truck.
“This is the part that they were really concerned for Canberra, was any fires in this area, because it’s so wooded and a lot of the areas are hard to get to.”
That’s why helicopters and a DC-10 plane are being used to fight fires from the air.
Parker said they are flying over every half hour or so and while it may be a bit unsettling, it does offer some comfort.
“Knowing they can do something.”
An evacuation centre has been opened at Erindale College and Parker and her family will likely go there if necessary.
“If it changes to an emergency level we won’t stick around.”
Twitter: WS_Diane Crocker