Family home only metres away from devastation

A family’s home at Deep Lead came within just five metres of being engulfed in flames after a 63 hectare fire tore through the area off Sandbar Road on Thursday.

Erin Olerhead and her partner were at work when she received a phone call from her father about the fire.   

“We rushed home and the whole property was burnt out,” she said. 

The family’s six-month-old home was vulnerable, but a firebomber flew overhead and extinguished the approaching flames.

“We are just so happy the home was saved and so grateful for the firefighters,” Ms Olerhead said. 

“We’ve only been here for six months and want to thank the fire crews for absolutely everything they did.”

Ms Olerhead said because they had only been at the property for a short time they had only just started landscaping.

“This saved our home,” she said. 

“If we had had a garden the fire would have caught onto it and been much harder to stop.”

Ms Olerhead said despite burnt fences and paddocks there was no significant damage to their property.

It took 20 Country Fire Authority brigades and four firebombers to control the grass fire which started from a lightening strike. 

District 16 CFA operations manager Neville Collins said the blaze was beyond the control of firefighters for “quite some time”.

“We had a number of strike teams that day,” he said. 

“Crews were there until 11pm on Thursday night and returned the next day to extinguish hotspots within the perimetre of the fire.

“Everyone did a fantastic job, there was no impact to adjoining homes, no assets were lost and the fire was limited to just grass and shrub.”

The scene was officially declared safe at 4pm after igniting about 1.30pm.

One female firefighter from the Stawell brigade was taken to Stawell Regional Health for smoke inhalation. She was assessed and released on the same day.

Deep Lead resident Malcolm Hayes said he was impressed with how the community banded together during the ordeal. He said a neighbour called him immediately when smoke started to rise above the tree line.

“She saw the fire first and rang me straight away then reported it to triple zero,” he said. 

“A spotter plane was up quickly within five minutes and as well as the trucks there were two fire bombers fighting the fire.”

“We had a CFA meeting at Deep Lead a few weeks ago and it went through what you should do in this sort of scenario.”

Mr Hayes said he learnt about different types of smoke and what they meant.

“White is not serious and black is serious, so on Thursday when it was black we knew something was up,” he said. 

“All the neighbours rang each other and others who were working in town came home quite quickly – it was really nice to see how everyone banded together.”