Fire evacuees took refuge in Stawell

STAWELL - More than 470 people registered at the Stawell relief centre at the Leisure Complex over the weekend, one of those was Sylvia Hannah.

Ms Hannah evacuated the Grampians Edge Caravan Park at Dadswells Bridge on Friday afternoon as the Northern Grampians Complex fire burned out of control.

"I grabbed precious things, family photos, put them in the car and away I went," Ms Hannah said.

Once she escaped the threat and first arrived at the Stawell Library, her biggest concern became the welfare of her 15 year old dog Rolly.

"He was really distressed, because he doesn't like the hot weather," she said.

"I took him up to the library and the lady there said he's in trouble and I said yes he is.

"So she went and got two towels and wet him with really cold water, wrapped him up like a parsnip, he had a sleep and he was okay after that."

Twenty-one people displaced by the fire threat slept at the Stawell Leisure Complex on Friday night, another 17 on Saturday night.

Lynette and Wendy Spry made the agonising decision to leave their home and some of their family behind in Pomonal and evacuate to Stawell on Friday.

"We had seven kids with us, so we just had to make the decision to get them out to safety," she said.

"It all happened very quickly, we weren't expecting it. On Thursday night they were telling us everything would be alright."

Lynette's father and two brothers stayed to defend the Pomonal property.

"I was just really worried about my Dad and my brothers and those left behind, because they did have embers falling on Friday," she said.

The Sprys were able to return home, their property unscathed on Saturday afternoon.

Another Pomonal resident who decided to leave when the evacuation recommendation was given was Leisha Powell and her ten year old son Ryan.

Ms Powell was full of praise for the Salvation Army volunteers who worked to provide evacuees with food to eat and blow up mattresses to sleep on.

"My parents decided to stay and defend, which wasn't good, but my main concern was with my child," she said.

"You can see that it got close because of the burnt leaves and ash around, but not close enough.

"I'm just really happy to be home and couldn't be any more thankful to the Salvation Army and facilities including the squash courts and swimming pool."

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