Panicked Survivor Reenacts Moment He Became Trapped By Bushfire
A man who survived a bushfire as it tore through the small town of Cobargo on the NSW South Coast has shared a graphic re-enactment of how he managed to escape the blaze.
Video footage shows Mathew Rumble returning to his friend Troy Pauling’s home -- or what’s left of it -- where he sought refugee as the New Year’s Eve fires ripped through.
The home has been reduced to a roof, a few pillars and a couple of brick walls.
“Destruction, absolute destruction. When the fire came through it hit us that hard and that fast that we didn’t know what to do," he said.
It could have been minutes, hours or seconds, who knows -- but we survived.
He explained how he and Mr Pauling jumped into the spa and would surface for air before submerging themselves again. Both then made a dash for the back door to try and stop the blaze from entering the home.
But "everything just started catching on flames and blowing up", including the laundry and all of the windows, he said.
When they ran out of water they were forced to switch to cans of soft drink, soaps and any liquids they could find in attempt to stifle the flames.
He then relives the moment Mr Pauling’s father tried to hold the back door closed to stop the blaze entering. During that time a panel had blown out and Rumble said it was time to find an escape route but there were none left.
“There was an esky at the backdoor full of water and blankets ready to go. We were in panic mode… we put the wet blankets over ourselves. We watched the roof and the whole house catch alight. We waited for the roof to collapse in on us and then we opened the door and we flew out," he said.
They huddled outside together with the blankets covering themselves. The heat was so intense that Mr Pauling and his father moved the fridge and sheltered behind its door while Mr Rumble was standing in the yard still wrapped in the wet blanket.
"Everything is just flames and ash and wind just gushing everywhere. We didn't know what to do, we just wanted to survive," he said.
Eventually, the fire passed and the sky returned to daylight. But Mr Pauling was "seriously burnt" so Mr Rumble had no choice but to pour dirty water from a tub over his mate in a desperate effort to soothe his skin and keep him cool.
As he tells the story, Mr Rumble appears to be still panicked by his horrific ordeal.
"Let's get to the point. We need to get these stories out. This wouldn't have happened if the country was run the correct way. I'm the one that called ScoMo a mutt but that was an outburst of anger," Mr Rumble said.
"Let's get together and look after our country. I'm proud of my country, I love my country and I love everyone in my country."
Mr Rumble's video has been shared more than 11,000 times on Facebook.