Bruce Annetts has come face-to-face with dozens of fires in his time as a volunteer with the NSW Rural Fire Service. But nothing will compare to Friday night's tussle with the flaming beast on the doorstep of his home in Tinonee on the state's Mid Coast.

The veteran volunteer arrived with his crew to the horrifying view of his house being lapped with flames and pelleted with embers.

There was hope, however, even if it was too late for his neighbour, reports

"We arrived on scene and the person in charge said we can defend your place, but the fire's going to impact the one across the road and it's going to be too dangerous for us to defend that," he told


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"I went in behind our tanker in my private car and the fire was starting to impact our place.

"The guys got hoses out by the side of our house and tried to protect whatever was there."

The wall of fire had danced around Mr Annetts's home as the path of destruction continued on its way.

But lashing embers still threatened to set the house alight.

"The crew had to move on to the next property but they left me there with a portable pump and hose," he said.


"I was up there until 4am putting out fires and things around the place."

Bruce Annetts is a volunteer with the NSW Rural Fire Service. Photo /
Bruce Annetts is a volunteer with the NSW Rural Fire Service. Photo /

Fighting any blaze is terrifying, said the veteran volunteer, but it's a whole different ball game when your home is on the line.

"It's very, very scary," he told "You've just got to cope with it.

"It got quite cold in the middle of the night and I was soaking wet.

"Even today there's still fires around the garden, still got no power, there's trees still falling around the house.

"A 60-foot tree, which was alight, came down at 1am or 2am last night and fell on my roof and broke all the windows on one side of my house.

"It took me another two hours to try and put that fire out."

Despite his home still being in harm's way as fires continue to rage in Tinonee, Mr Annetts remained ready and willing to take up the fight late on Sunday afternoon.

And as is the theme with volunteers and residents near Taree who are facing destructive fires from most directions, their humour and strength of character is yet to abandon them.

"We can see a lot clearer through the bush now there's no understory," he chuckled.

Mr Annetts said his neighbour was distraught at his home being razed but was relieved his beloved chickens and their coop had somehow managed to avoid being annihilated.

As had two of his three goats.

"But he said he won't live in the bush again after that, he's really devastated," the volunteer said.

"He said he might go back to Germany where there's no fires."