‘I thought we lost everything’

‘I thought we lost everything’

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Firefighters saving Mandy Merenda’s home in January.

Armadale firefighters managed to save a home at the last minute last month during the Oakford bushfires, which burnt 308 hectares of land.

Mandy Merenda’s home had security camera’s set up, which allowed her to watch live CCTV footage of the fire on her phone as she was evacuating.

In an alarming moment for Ms Merenda, power to the camera was cut just as the fire reached the back door of her home.

“I thought we lost everything when the camera cut out,” she said.

“We thought we lost the whole house until we saw the live footage on TV, which showed our home still standing.

“What I didn’t know was the camera kept recording to a back up so when we were allowed back to our property we had the whole event recorded.”

Firefighters entered the backyard as the flames licked the backdoor.

“It’s hard to explain the feelings, how do you thank somebody who saved your whole livelihood? My home had everything including my business,” Ms Merenda said.

The footage, which can be found on the DFES Facebook page, shows firefighters arriving and rushing to the back where the flames formed a wall. The firefighters immediately begin extinguishing it.

Ms Merenda said she was amazed at the actions of the firefighters.

“They were so calm, they even walked into the fire as they were working to put it out.”

DFES has identified the firefighters as 12 Armadale members, who Ms Merenda will meet with later this year to thank them.

“DFES has organised a meeting with the firefighters so I can thank them, but I don’t know what I could possibly say to them that will show how thankful I am,” she said.

Ms Merenda said in the 15 years they’ve lived in their home, they never thought their house would be under threat.

Since the blaze they have implemented a bushfire plan.

“It’s scary and we were just so lucky. A fire plan is so important because you always think there’s so much land between your house and the fire start point. Things can get out of control so quickly,” she said.

Authorities advise people to create a bushfire plan and checklist in case of emergency.

Education is important to creating a plan and anybody in a bushfire prone area or close to is urged to research and educate themselves on bushfires.

The Bushfire Centre of Excellence in Nambeelup was opened in January.

The centre was designed to provide enhanced training programs for career and volunteer firefighters across the state to help manage and prevent bushfires.