InDaily InDaily

Support independent Journalism Donate Subscribe
Support independent journalism


“I was yelling at them… You need to get out now”


Koonunga resident Cameron Garner tried desperately to evacuate an older couple “that just didn’t have any idea how dangerous the fire was”.

Comments Print article

Returning from an attempt to check a mate’s property yesterday afternoon, Country Fire Service veteran and former news camera operator Cameron Garner spotted an elderly woman standing outside her house, watching as the flames approached.

“We noticed the fire was travelling through the paddocks just on the edge of Freeling,” he recalls.

“The wife was standing watching it, and I said ‘you need to get out now’.

“She said her husband was next door, checking on neighbours.

“We could see flames.”

Racing to the neighbour’s house, Garner found the husband.

“I said ‘that fire front is going to be on you within seconds, you’ve got to get out’.”

But the man appeared not to understand the gravity of the situation.

“Oh I’ve just got to move the caravan and my car,” Garner recalls him saying.

“I thought, this is just nuts,” says Garner.

“Nothing’s going to stop it and if you’re in the way of it you’re just going to get fried.

“Literally, the fire front was 400 metres away.

“We were watching a 20 foot wall of fire running through stubble paddock, with wirly-wirlys going through it.

From the back of Garner's ute: smoke rising in the distance.

From the back of Garner’s ute yesterday: smoke rising in the distance.

“I said ‘that fire’s going to be on you in no time, you’re out of time, you need to go’.

“I got really stern with him and said ‘mate you need to move now’.

“I was yelling at them: ‘You need to get out now’.

“I don’t think they were shocked … they just didn’t understand how dangerous the situation was.

“You could see the flames reflected on the glasses that he was wearing on his face.

“He just had it in his head that that was what he was going to do.”

Garner made the agonising decision to leave.

“I said ‘we can’t stay, we’re going to get cooked’

“I’m just a farmer – I don’t have the authority to move people along.

“He was walking back to his house and that was the last we saw of him.

“I unfortunately just had to leave; I’m just hoping they’re okay.”

Later in the day, Garner came face-to-face with the fire front.

Firetrucks lining up yesterday.

Firetrucks lining up yesterday.

Driving back home after dropping a woman to safety in the centre of Kapunda, Garner was stopped on the road by a wall of flame.

“It was like a blowtorch – I’ve been in the CFS 27 years myself, and I haven’t seen flames do things like that before,” he says.

“The fire came in front of me, I had to stop.

“It would’ve been across the road and running up the gully in a matter of seconds.

“Just the sheer wind force behind it … it was absolutely insane.

“Everything was just blasted with flame, blackened, gone, that was it. The fire moved on.

“I’ve got a ute with a fire pump on it but it wouldn’t have done much at all.

“It would’ve been like trying to bail out the Titanic with a cup.”

An old shot of Garner (centre) who has volunteered for nearly three decades with the CFS.

An old shot of Garner (centre) who has volunteered for nearly three decades with the CFS.

When the inferno passed, Garner was able to get back to his own property.

“We basically came back to my place and tried to see if we had to defend (the property).”

“We had ash raining down on us … but luckily, the finger of fire went between us and Kapunda, probably about two kilometres up the road from us.”

Garner will be helping a mate to clean up his property at Wasleys today.


Make a comment View comment guidelines

Help our journalists uncover the facts

In times like these InDaily provides valuable, local independent journalism in South Australia. As a news organisation it offers an alternative to The Advertiser, a different voice and a closer look at what is happening in our city and state for free. Any contribution to help fund our work is appreciated. Please click below to donate to InDaily.

Donate here
Powered by PressPatron


Show comments Hide comments
Will my comment be published? Read the guidelines.

More Local stories

Loading next article