Family dodge fire by hiding under jetty

This was the moment a Tasmanian woman sheltered in the sea with her grandchildren to escape wildfires that turned her hometown to ashes.

Tammy Holmes was treading water with the children near a boat ramp in Dunalley on January 4 as bushfires raged near the town.

The photo was taken by Mrs Holmes' husband, Tim, and sent to the children's mother, Bonnie Walker, in Hobart.

Mr Holmes told the ABC how the group had managed to evade the flames.

"We saw tornadoes of fire just coming across towards us and the next thing we knew everything was on fire.

"I had sent Tammy ... with the children to get down to the jetty because there was no other escape, we couldn't get off.

Mr Holmes followed after them, and then sent the picture to Mrs Walker, who had left her children to attend a funeral in Hobart.

"An image arrived which was really - it's still quite upsetting to see the image, it's all of my, our, five children underneath the jetty huddled up in neck-deep sea water," she said.

The group eventually managed to escape in a dinghy before making it to a hotel outside the fire zone, and the family were reunited.

"My father rallied against all odds and managed to go up and get a little dinghy off the foreshore," Mrs Walker said. "Loaded our children in and my mum and then dragged it into a headwind and got them to safety.

"I spent a lot of time with good friends and prayed like I've never prayed before."

- staff reporter

- NZ Herald

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