A Melton man has talked about the ‘unbelievably scary’ experience of being caught up in the devastating wildfires which are continuing to rage through Australia.
Alan Pearson, who is a borough and county councillor, flew out to Perth last month for business and to spend Christmas with family members.
He arrived on December 11 in the suburb of Two Rocks, a fishing village, and very soon after he got there a fire began ripping through the area on the back of strong winds.
He was ordered to evacuate to the marina with relatives and everyone else in the community and forced to spend the night in his car.
Mr Pearson told the Melton Times: “It got out of control very quickly.
“There were high numbers of helicopters used for water bombing and all the roads out were closed.
“The village was surrounded by bush fires - it was unbelievably scary.
“We had to spend the night at the marina car park in the car.
“We could not get out because the fires were 100 feet high around the village.
“The heat and the deep red colour made it feel like The War of the Worlds.”
He praised the actions of the emergency services with firefighters and fire volunteers bravely tackling the raging blaze in a bid to protect human lives and their properties and police officers, for keeping residents regularly updated with the situation.
Mr Pearson, who is managing director of leading sports science movement training company, SAQ International, based at Pera in Melton, was allowed with relatives to return to the family home the next morning but was advised to look out for flying embers.
He recalled: “The next two days, we didn’t sleep.
“We had hose pipes at the ready.
“The house was full of smoke and it is surrounded by trees, many of them eucalyptus trees which are full of oil and they explode in heat.
“You are given information if you stay and defend the house on what to do and, wow, that was very scary too.”
Thousands of hectares of bush land have been destroyed in that part of Australia with temperatures topping 40 degrees.
The high temperatures and dry weather have also seen wildfires causing widespread damage on the east of Australia, as well as the south and New South Wales.
More than 20 people have so far died along with hundreds of millions of animals.
Mr Pearson, who met his late wife, Silvana, in Australia, added: “Many people have suffered from the smoke, particularly those with lung conditions.
“The heat was incredible and I have never experienced anything like this.
“It is so terrible to see whole communities evacuated, houses and bush destroyed.
“Until you experience the power and energy of bush fires and the devastating impact they have on personal lives and communities it’s hard to understand.
“I came from cold, wet Melton struggling with floods to the complete opposite.”