Volunteer firefighter Russell Scholes, from Balmoral, New South Wales (NSW), found his own house ablaze while he was out dousing flames that engulfed other people's houses. But scarcity of time and the need to protect the unlit properties made him go on with his job, instead of fighting the fire that engulfed his own home. "We had jobs to do", he told the reporter, with a smile on his face, standing beside whatever remained of his charred house.
"I loved the house, but it's just a thing": Russell Scholes
On seeing his house engulfed in fire, volunteer firefighter Russel Scholes went on to protect others' houses, instead of saving his own, as he "did not have time". "We had jobs to do", he told a BBC reporter. His team decided to save the next property, if the one was already on fire.
On why he didn't stay, while his house was ablaze, "It would have made it more difficult for me to do my job", he responded. "Out of sight, out of mind. Go and do what you've got to do". He further said it would have "made no sense at all" for him to watch over his own house instead of protecting others as his home was "already burnt".
Scholes came back to see his house, the next morning. "She made me cry," he said, while he showed the reporter, whatever remained of his home, already charred to the ground. He had already removed every item from the house that had a sentimental value attached to it, as they already "knew what was coming". "My family is safe, my animals are safe, and we helped protect the community," he said. "For me, that is more important than the house". "I loved the house, but it's just a thing", Scholes said.
Emergency-level fires have ravaged large parts of New South Wales and South Australia, with death-toll rising to 9. With over 900 homes having been destroyed, catastrophic conditions still persist with conditions of high winds, above 40C temperatures, low humidity and long-term dryness, fanning the flames across the country.