Oz family survives flames with heads just above water

“We saw tornadoes of fire just coming towards us,” Tim Holmes told ABC reporters. “And the next thing we knew, everything was on fire, everywhere all around us,” Tim Holmes said.

Holmes and his family narrowly escaped the flames bearing down on them by jumping in the water, neck deep, and stayed there for three hours at the edge of their property, taking refuge under a wooden jetty.

He was describing the terror he and his family— his wife, Tammy, and their five grandchildren, aged 2 to 11 — experienced near Dunalley, in Tasmania, in one of the worst seasons of wildfire that swept wide swaths of the country this summer

The Holmes’ harrowing experience was matched by thousands of families all over Australia, with some loss of life and billions lost as livestock and properties were turned to ashes.

“For us, there was no other escape … The difficulty was there was so much smoke and embers, and there was probably only 200 millimetres to 300 millimetres of air above the water,” Holmes said.

Despite the hot temperatures, the water was very cold and the family huddled together for warmth.

– Murray Burt

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