The West

Two minutes to disaster
Colin and Sue Daniels watched their house burn on television coverage of the fire. Picture: Ben Crabtree /The West Australian

A Stoneville couple say two minutes could have been the difference between life and death when they dropped the garden hose and fled their home.

While hundreds of residents will hear whether their homes survived this morning, Colin, 56, and Susan Daniels, 59, saw their ruined property on television last night.

Mrs Daniels said she broke down while watching the footage, convinced her home of 28 years had been destroyed.

"Colin saw the metal of the shed and all that on TV and he said, 'That's our place'," she said.

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She described the terrifying moments before the couple made it to safety, when they stopped thinking about their home and made their lives the priority.

"We stayed to defend and water everything down, but when it did get serious it came really quickly," Mrs Daniels said.

"Once the embers come, you've got no chance. They were raining down around us. I saw the flames at our neighbour's wall and Colin said "run", then he looked back and it was just a wall of flames."

The couple lost the home their daughter grew up in, four road bikes and a car one week after their dog was mauled to death, but Mrs Daniels said they would bounce back.

"We're alive. You've got no control over it, so you move on," she said.

Tears were shed, hugs shared and gloomy looks exchanged as hundreds of people gathered in Mundaring to hear the latest news.

The 5.30pm meeting at the Mundaring Recreation Centre spilled out on to the oval as young couples, families and the elderly waited.

But they did not learn the fate of their homes.

The damage is so extensive that the Department of Fire and Emergency Services is still trying to assess exactly what has been lost.

People called out questions about streets, asking firefighters if they knew whether houses had been destroyed and when they could go back and see for themselves, but they were told the entire area was off-limits and dangerous.

An elderly couple cried into each other's arms, a young woman was comforted by her partner and a teenage girl sobbed into her teddy bear.

The West Australian

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