'Paradise turns to hell': Family watching TV sees bushfire engulf property

A woman who watched a fire engulf her property on the TV is now raising money for the local firefighters and doing everything she can to support them.

Sandy Betts, from Bawley Point on the NSW south coast, said she felt both gratitude and devastation at the same time as she watched her community ablaze on TV.

Sandy Betts, pictured with her son, Rory Betts-McCrae, watched as her community became engulfed in flames. Source: Supplied / Sandy Betts.

“As I evacuated at midnight, my heart stayed in Bawley,” Ms Betts told Yahoo News Australia in a statement.

Ms Betts explained that all the roads were blocked off before bushland surrounding Bawley Point was set alight overnight.

The Currowan Fire has torn through over 77,000 hectares, literally surrounding Bawley Point.

“Our little piece of paradise turn into hell on earth yesterday,” Ms Betts wrote on Facebook, saying she immediately recognised the footage showing her own home surrounded by flames.

“There were 30-metre flames and fire balls engulfing our property and our next door neighbours.”

Ms Betts explained anyone who had seen the footage on the news concluded her home was gone, however her home fortunately survived the flames.

She praised the work of her neighbours, Baz, Liz and Brendan, who also managed to save their own home, the helicopters which water bombed their property and the local firefighters who did everything they could to save the home.

Ms Betts said her neighbour, Baz, left his own home, which was still covered in embers, to rush over to Ms Betts’ to put out fires, not once but twice.

“I am finding it hard to find the words for such selflessness,” Ms Betts said.

“The community of Bawley Point is so strong and we will recover from this utter devastation.”

Currowan Fire surrounded Bawley Point, trapping residents and making the ocean the only way in or out. Source: Rural Fire Service.

The community of Bawley Point has proven to be not only strong, but generous.

Ms Betts organised a GoFundMe, and all of the money is going towards supporting the initial emergency response requirements.

After she evacuated Bawley Point, Ms Betts sad there was urgent calls for food, drinks, medicine, extra masks and there needed to be a swift response, hence the fundraising.

“The emergency response this appeal is funding has also been supported by incredible generosity through donations and subsidisation from local families, local businesses and some national companies,” Ms Betts said.

Sandy Betts was able to organise a private boat to drop off supplies. Source: Supplied / Sandy Betts.

The GoFundMe has so far raised over $57,000 and when Yahoo News Australia contacted Ms Betts she was just about to go deliver supplies by boat, as the only way to get to Bawley Point is by sea.

Ms Betts told Yahoo News Australia the emergency supplies were transported from Ulladulla Harbour to Bawley Point and were made possible through donations.

“The local RFS are not adequately funded and this is the community responding to the deficit,” she said.

“The silence from both the federal and state politicians is deafening amidst this bushfire emergency. The climate emergency is literally on our doorstep.

“The country needs leadership to act now with urgency on climate change,” she said, adding that action on the crisis need to be a “top” and “urgent priority.”

According to AAP, a number of buildings were destroyed along the south coast by bushfires and the Currowan fire had destroyed at least one home near the town of Kioloa earlier in the week.

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