Excerpts from the book

After we had filled up with water we got back onto the fire ground. At that point the crew were lined up with hoses and were watching it come. We braced ourselves and I remember vividly thinking, this is what it must have been like in the war with people charging at you, but what we hadn’t seen was what was coming at us behind the truck and Tony hit the horn and screamed again to get into the truck and we all ran for the truck and only got as far as the front tyres. We watched as the embers came flying past and got caught in another firestorm. We managed to crouch down low enough behind the wheel and kept out of the severe winds with hot embers and constant attacks by debris. We jumped into the truck as soon as it was possible. It was incredible that we survived and that everyone was okay. It seemed like an eternity before we could get to safety, the only thing we could do was to go back to the house and help do what we could where we could to save it.

We lost good friends that we had shared so much with in the past, good times and bad times, we have not been able to watch their kids grow up and they have not been able to watch our kids grow up. There was so much hatred. It was so sad, we were so close before the fires.

It was an interesting time, due to lack of sleep and a change of responsibilities. What was usually a part time job as a captain virtually became a full time job in a volunteer capacity. My thoughts constantly struggled with my other responsibilities in life.

At this stage I began to feel that something more had to be done, the volunteers seemed to be just pushed aside, we became disenfranchised with everything. All of a sudden you had the NSW Rural Fire Service up here doing things and the Fire Brigade were doing other tasks; all these people seemed to come to try and help us, to fix everything, and we seemed to get pushed to one side and it was like, “We don’t really need you anymore.” I started feeling like outsider even more than I normally am, because I was a volunteer bushfire fighter.

I got to a point when the community was going okay and the coronial was about to begin, but at times I had to go underground and I had to withdraw, not answer phones, just detach myself a little bit from other people for a little bit of self preservation as I needed as much energy and as much confidence as I could find because if you are constantly having your decisions questioned; no matter how confident you are, it is a bit like a cancer, it just starts to erode.

Keith believes that he was in a very fortunate position because he had his wife and daughters and their unconditional support. He goes on to say that he believes Kerry did him the biggest favour by never asking what happened, because there are always things you never want to bloody remember anyway.