Wildfires in Australia have triggered a state of emergency in New South Wales and Queensland, threatening thousands of homes, including that of Maltese author James Vella-Bardon.
Vella-Bardon and his family (wife and two children) had just moved into their new home along Garigal National Park only to find themselves having to up sticks for one night after a warning by police to evacuate the area.
“On Monday everyone was informed that temperatures on Tuesday were going to hit 40 degrees which, coupled with strong winds, meant the risk to Sydney metropolitan was at catastrophic levels for the first time since the early 90s,” Vella-Bardon told Lovin Malta.
Vella-Bardon is no stranger to the world of adventure, being a best-selling author of the critically- acclaimed The Sheriff’s Catch, but this time his adventure was much more real and life-threatening.
The Maltese family was forced to move back to their old house in Artarmon for one night, which James is in the process of currently selling, where they slept on inflatable beds that they had purchased at a local retail store, KMart.
“My new neighbours weren’t fussed however and remained at home. They said they’ve been through higher temperatures and the only risk was if some moron started a fire.”
The unpredictable nature of the wildfire has disrupted daily life in New South Wales; schools have been canceled and families are choosing to work from home so to stay together in case they have to evacuate again.
“There were a few close shaves but after 4 pm our worst fears were confirmed when a pyromaniac (possibly two) started fires in South Turramurra, around 8km as the crow flies from our house.”
“We were squirming a bit then but luckily some quick thinking by a pilot saved the day when he veered away from his previous destination and splattered the fire with a pink fire retardant.”
About 80% of bushfires to date have been caused by pyromaniacs and this time doesn’t seem to be any different. So far, four people have died, 100 people have been injured and 150 homes and buildings have been destroyed by the blazes devastating swathes of the eastern coast.
But thankfully James and his family are out of harm’s way… for now.
“At 7 pm a brisk southerly cool wind started blowing in the opposite direction and the risk was reduced with police advising that we could return to our homes. We’re still on standby but the risk is greatly reduced.”
Throughout these turbulent times, the Maltese-Australian community in Sydney has been looking out for each other over Facebook thanks to a PM group named ‘Maussie’ created by Vella-Bardon and his friends. The group includes Sydney Consul Lawrence Buhagiar and is a good way for the community to keep an eye out for each other, especially so far away from home and in such turbulent times.
Stay safe out there!