Mum describes moment ‘ferocious’ fire obliterated home
SETTING up a camper trailer at a friend's Bowraville property, mother of two Sian Whitewolf and her young children are one of many families left homeless by the fierce infernos bearing down on the region.
She'd just been married a month earlier, but her English husband Alessandro has been overseas since. The plan was to reunite at Christmas to start their lives together.
But with the fires wiping out the South Arm property, the family is now struggling to afford him a ticket home.
"He has been really distraught being stuck on the other side of the world and not being able to help us," Sian said.
"It's been very challenging."
Sian said she'd suffered vivid dreams of her home burning down just days before the Kian Rd fire obliterated the property, and all of the family's belongings.
With a sense of foreboding, she had relocated her horses from the South Arm property to a friend's paddock days earlier.
But even she did not predict just how quickly the blaze would reach the house last Friday.
"I was in Bellingen when I noticed the smoke was getting close. I had a really bad feeling in the pit of my stomach," Sian said.
"I travelled back home and saw the fire on the hill near the property, the smoke was just billowing out.
"I grabbed the dog, my laptop and left."
Sian said within half an hour the fire reached the home, which the family had been renting.
They did not have insurance.
"The kids are really stressed out. They've lost all their belongings and their teddies. They've got nothing," Sian said.
"The fire was just so ferocious and so fast. It looks like a tornado has torn through the property. There's no fridge, no stove, nothing.
"The neighbours have also lost everything. I know of at least six properties nearby that are now completely gone."
Despite the devastating loss, Sian has been heading back and forth from the fire zone to help other families and animals to safety, handing out rescue packs with close friends Jess Symons and Yvonne Hicks.
"It's been absolutely amazing to see the community come together and support each other during a time like this," she said.
"Lots of families have lost their homes. There needs to be some changes in government. More needs to be done in terms of funding, backburning and controlling these fires."
A friend has set up a GoFundMe page to help Sian's family get back on their feet and to bring Alessandro home. Make a donation here.