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‘This is going to be a bad afternoon’

The Daily Examiner podcast On The Frontline reveals the first hand experiences of our local RFS volunteers during the Clarence Valley's horrific 2019 bushfire season. CLICK HERE to listen to the latest episode.

 

FOR weeks, Lawrence deputy captain Paul Simpson watched as the Myall Creek Road fire made its march south toward the Clarence Valley region.

Lawrence RFS deputy captain Paul Simpson receiving a citation award for his work during the 2019-20 bushfire season.
Lawrence RFS deputy captain Paul Simpson receiving a citation award for his work during the 2019-20 bushfire season.

"I was building a house on Murrayville Rd in Ashby when it finally hit," he said.

"All day I'm watching Myall Creek coming towards us … we weren't getting much work done."

Just after 10am on November 26, 2019, the Myall Creek fire had finally reached the Clarence Valley and was taking a six-kilometre run toward the bush-block communities of Ashby, Ashby Heights and Tullymorgan.

 

During a lunch break, Paul jumped in his ute and headed north along old Murrayville Rd, Ashby to find out where the fire was.

"I came across Keith Connor the dozer driver and I asked him, 'how are they going with it?' And he said 'they've lost it; it's coming across'."

Paul jumped into his ute and raced back to the house he was building.

The Lawrence RFS crew and their families
The Lawrence RFS crew and their families

"I had an apprentice who was 20 years old, a carpenter with two babies and the homeowner there; I was just thinking, where are they? They need to leave now," Paul said.

Once Paul arrived back at the house, he told everyone to pack up immediately.

"By the time we were in our cars and coming around the corner of Old Murrayville Rd and Murrayville Rd the fire was already coming across," Paul said.

Paul drove straight to Lawrence fire station where his crew were already waiting for him.

"I told them, this is not going to be good. This is going to be a bad afternoon," he said.

Listen to Paul's full story below in the latest episode of On The Frontline