Oz bushfires put ex Bay resident on high alert

Former Papamoa resident Jessica Cole's bags are packed and her family is ready to go at a moment's notice should the Australian bush fires get too close to their Victoria home.

Ms Cole, 24, told the Bay of Plenty Times smoke from the out-of-control Australian bushfires was visible from her home in Warranambool, Victoria.

The scene made her feel a long way from home.

Ms Cole, her partner and their two toddlers live about an hour-and-a-half from the state's largest fire in the Kentbruck-Mount Richmond district, west of Portland. The fire started on Friday afternoon and has burnt through more than 2700ha of bush.

She said the family was keeping a close eye on the situation.

"It's pretty scary. There's a chance [the fire could reach us] depending which way the wind goes, so we're on high alert.

"We've got the fire plan in action so we're ready to pack up and go," she said.

"We've got two bags packed with our passports, birth certificates, all the important documents we need. I've got tinned food, water, blankets and a change of clothes so we're ready to go if we need to."

Ms Cole's sister, who lives slightly closer to the fire, had also come to stay for a few nights to escape the smoke which had not quite reached Ms Cole's house.

A short drive away the air smelt strongly of stale smoke, she said. Ms Cole moved to Australia from Papamoa three years ago and said the heat so far this summer was far worse than she had experienced before.

Chris Ede, who was born and bred in Tauranga, moved to Brisbane 33 years ago and is now living about 40 minutes away from the large bushfire on Bribie Island.


"It's affecting the atmosphere terribly, all the ash. It's all very smelly.

"It's covering the whole of Brisbane that's how bad it's getting here. It's only just hit us in the last couple of days. It's only the calm before the storm," she said.

Ms Ede described the sight from the front door of her North Brisbane home.

"It's an absolute haze and I've got the door open and you can smell it.

"It's not good ... your clothes actually get covered in ash when you put them out on the line."

The fire is unlikely to reach her home but the nursing home Ms Ede works at just north of Brisbane CBD backs on to bush which has caught fire before.

Ms Ede recalled two instances last year where fire in bushland near her work created smoke so thick she could not see the road in front of her car and she had to turn around and go back.

"It's going to be interesting times ahead," she said. "That's the trouble with living over here. It's either flood or fire."

The current fires are the worst she can recall, as was last year's flooding which saw her stuck at home, unable to get to work, for four days.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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