The Age: Residents of the small community of Tonimbuk are sifting through the ruins of homes and properties in the wake of the ferocious Bunyip fire.
Tonimbuk, a rural hamlet home to 208 people, was among the areas hardest hit by the huge bushfire.
Cardinia shire mayor Graeme Moore, who lives in nearby Nar Nar Goon North, says he feels gutted and helpless as locals wait to find out if they still have homes.
Tonimbuk is horse country. On Friday night, before the fires struck, Cr Moore watched a line of horse floats at least a kilometre long slowly leave town.
“You can only do so much and make so many things happen. The weekend turned on us like a wild dog. I’m trying to pick the pieces up and make everyone feel secure.”
Local resident Karen told ABC radio her home had been destroyed.
“I’m not the only one, there are other people who’ve lost stuff too so I’m just . . . one of a lot of people who are going through this right now and we’re just trying to be brave.
“My poor son, he’s 14 and he’s losing all of his stuff and I’m just trying to keep everyone together now.”
Andrew Clarke, owner of Jinks Creek Winery, fled his property and later watched his livelihood, including the winery, cellar door and a bed and breakfast go up in flames on television.
“We’ve lost everything,” Mr. Clarke said.
Natalie Fildes said she begged her parents to leave on Saturday, as the fire approached.
“It’s just destruction out here,” she said. “One of our friends two rows down, everything is lost. The house has crumbled.”
The Fildes family face tens of thousands of dollars in fence repair costs alone, but they’re counting themselves lucky.
The fire burnt right up to Tonimbuk hall, but did not burn it down.
One resident discovered a handwritten note from the CFA when she returned to her property.
“Your house was saved from the crew of Berwick,” read the note, which she later posted on social media.
Cr Moore said: “[Resident’s] properties have been destroyed, but they’ve retained their houses. The CFA did a fantastic job to secure those houses. But their properties would be more than likely destroyed, and that will be just as upsetting.”
“In fires, in floods, in earthquakes, in the fury of the great deep, in calamities by sea and by land, the warning is given that God’s Spirit will not always strive with men.” (Last Day Events, page 26).