Girvan resident, Steve Cox has seen much in his time as a professional firefighter, but on October 16, he experienced firsthand the nightmare of having a home destroyed by fire.
Steve and his wife, Lyne Steel's Girvan home was in the path of the Booral Road fire that devastated more than 900 hectares of land when it swept through bushland south of Stroud last month.
Although unable to save his own home, once his wife and the family pets were safe and secure, Steve then joined up with a Rural Fire Service (RFS) crew from Taree on the scene and assisted them in saving three other houses in the district.
A Fire and Rescue NSW veteran of 33 years, Steve - who is based at the Mayfield West fire station - was working with the Kurri Kurri brigade when he received a call from friend, Andrea Evans, concerned about Lyne's wellbeing.
Andrea said she had received a report of a "fast moving fire" headed in the direction of Steve and Lyne's home but had been unable to contact Lyne by phone.
When Steve called home his wife reported no signs of an approaching fire.
Deciding to return home in case anything further developed, Steve was waiting to be relieved when Andrea called once again, this time speaking to Lyne and telling her to "get out now, it's coming and coming at you fast."
"By the time she got the car out and got the dogs and her handbag, she had to drive through flames going down the hill, that's how fast it was moving," Steve said.
Estimates put the velocity of the fire at about 45 kilometres per hour, underscoring just how timely Lyne's escape was on the day.
We've got nothing - we got out with the clothes on our back- Steve Cox
At about this time an RFS truck arrived on the scene but firefighters were unable to save the home.
The time from receiving the initial call warning of the approaching fire until the house was completely gutted was about 45 minutes.
Along with their home, Steve had a collection of classic cars that were lost in the fire, along with farm machinery.
Despite their loss, the Coxes have been overwhelmed at the generosity of the local community which has rallied to support them.
"The support I've had from the fire brigade has just been overwhelming," Steve said.
"The local support has been amazing, the community has just banded together and can't do enough for us."
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