Residents of Johnson Road in Bertram are breathing a collective sigh of relief after narrowly avoiding tragedy as a fire tore through 35ha of bush on Saturday.
Lee-Anne Higgison, who lives at the corner of the road and Brixton Gate with her partner Scott Higgison and son Brodie, said her family was lucky to still have a home.
“It started with Brodie, he noticed the smell of smoke. The next minute we heard fire trucks coming up,” she said.
“Scott was watching from the wall at the back for about an hour and he was saying ‘it’s getting really close’ and I just said ‘don’t be silly’.
“I was standing on the fence and I said ‘I can hear crackling’ and I felt some of the water bomb spray so I said I’d go inside and ring FESA because there was nothing on the FESA website.
“But before I even got to ring Scott has yelled in no uncertain terms ‘get the hell out of here’ so I grabbed Brodie and went.”
The fire started about 1.15pm at the back of Bertram Primary School and burnt along Johnson towards Thomas Road.
Volunteer and career firefighters fought the blaze in extreme conditions, with the Bureau of Meteorology recording a maximum of 39.5C at 1.30pm.
Mr Higgison stayed behind, putting out spot fires with the help of a neighbour and said the entire neighbourhood owed a debt of gratitude to the good Samaritan.
“The guy that was here, we’d only just met him five minutes before and he decided to stay and help Scott,” Mrs Higgison said.
“He spotted fires over the road so he told Scott ‘you stay here and look after this side’ because our place was going, but he was jumping over fences and putting out fires in backyards everywhere.
“He was brilliant. He helped us and because Scott’s an asthmatic, he was getting very overwhelmed with the smoke.”
Fellow Johnson Road resident Glenn Harcus, whose front lawn was scorched by flames, echoed Mrs Higgison’s praises of the man.
“He found my neighbour’s garage on fire so he put that out,” he said.
“I think if he hadn’t have done that we could have been looking at some more serious damage and of course if their house had gone ours probably would’ve as well.”
“We’re very lucky that guy was floating around.”
On Monday a police spokeswoman said the fire was being treated as suspicious and detectives were investigating the cause.