A night to forget

Farmers affected by the Cobbler Road fire continue to count their losses as the mop up around the Yass Valley continues.

More than 13,000 hectares were burnt and the number of reported stock lost continues to rise exponentially.

Local farmer Peter Southwell, who owns and manages ‘Fairview’ on Burrinjuck Road, said the fire came from across Childowla Road and, before he knew it, was nearly at his shearing shed.

He said it all happened extremely quickly on Tuesday evening and, thanks to help from the fire brigade, he was able to save a lot of stock and avoid losing his home or any surrounding sheds.

“In the end we were extremely lucky,” Mr Southwell said.

“We did lose 80-90 per cent of our land which is a lot, but we only had seven sheep burnt in the fire.”

Mr Southwell said what happened was terrible and that this sort of disaster can really affect a farmer.

He said it will take a lot of time and a lot of money for most to get back to where they were just eight days ago.

“Look it is a real setback for us. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and recovery. It has also taken an emotional drain on everybody in our family.”

In some areas, the fire got to about 30 metres from Mr Southwell’s main shearing shed and about 200-300 metres from his home.

“The fact that we saved our house, our sheds, and so much stock was great. The firies out there were absolutely fantastic, we couldn’t thank them enough because without them we would have lost 100 percent of ‘Fairview’.”

Having moved there in 1984, Mr Southwell and his wife Faye, had always made the decision that if a fire came they would stay and protect what was important to them.

“We decided on that a long time ago. We had a great bushfire survival plan which we put into place as soon as we saw the fire over Childowla Road. We decided years ago we wouldn’t leave ‘Fairview’ in a bushfire.”

Mr Southwell said the community support had been amazing and it meant a lot to him and his family.

“The amount of phone calls we have had, people checking on us, people asking if they can help, it’s really lifted our spirits.”

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