Australian flag in smoke helps reporter save teens, dogs
A REPORTER has told of how an Australian flag flying outside a home led her to help save two teenagers caught up in the devastating NSW fires.
The Maitland Mercury's Belinda-Jane Davis said she had been earlier told to get out by a Rural Fire Service firefighter as the fire raged towards homes along Cabbage Tree Road near Williamtown in the lower Hunter Valley.
"There was no stopping the fire,'' the Fairfax Media regional reporter wrote in a story today.
"I rang my colleague, photographer Marina Neil, who was helping some of the residents pack up. She had taken a lift with them to safety, believing that two other boys - Sam and Dylan - and their pets, were close behind them.
"It was then that one of the residents, Tim Crowther, confirmed the worst. Sam and Dylan had not left the house.
"I looked up the road at the flames and knew their lives could be lost if I did not act. I saw a police car ahead and ran toward it, yelling out.
"There are boys in a house up there with their pets," I said. "They won't leave them, we have to save them."
"I got into the police car with two ¬officers and we drove up the road, frantically trying to identify the house.
"It's the one with the Australian flag out the front," I told the officers, while taking instructions from Marina over my mobile phone.
"There it is," I said as I spotted it.
"When I got out I could feel the heat from the fire on my skin. A barbed wire fence blocked our entry. In high heels and a straight skirt I flew over it and started knocking on all the windows.
"Sam!" I screamed. "Dylan!"
The police followed. We found the boys standing at the back of the house watching the fire approach.
"You've got to get out of here," one officer said. "You've got two minutes."
The reporter, together with police, helped rescued three adult border collies and puppies inside.