'We didn't have time to be frightened'

Colleen Simon didn't have time to be frightened when flames from a raging grass fire licked at her backyard.

But on Tuesday morning, looking at the charred earth about four metres from her back shed, the Donnybrook woman is counting her blessings she didn't lose her home to fire for the second time in a just over a year.

"I think the shock is still setting in," Ms Simon said.

"We are lucky."

Ms Simon and her partner Hoani "John" Te Waka moved into a bungalow at the rear of a neighbour's property after they lost their home to a house fire in January last year.

It is their neighbour, Peter Garner, that Ms Simon said saved their home from being razed again.

Armed with nothing more than wet quilts, buckets and garden hoses, Mr Garner and two other men, who were passing by, battled the inferno for about 30 minutes until the Epping Fire Brigade arrived.

"They were just banging it down with a wet Doona," Ms Simon said.

"They stopped it from getting to the sheds. If it had got there we would have lost everything.

"We didn't have time to be frightened."

Ms Simon said she was initially oblivious to the blaze, which started about 1.15pm on Monday and burnt 2040 hectares.

It wasn't until she went outside her home to move her car into the shade that she saw the paddock next door was alight and the fire charging towards her home.

Mr Garner said he also was not aware of the blaze at first. He said a stranger driving a ute "flew" into his driveway and alerted him to the fire.

"He said I better have a look at the paddock next door," Mr Garner said.

"It was pretty scary. There was six-foot flames.

"Luckily I had a 1000 litre water container out the back. We just wet Doonas and got buckets and anything else we could find."

Mr Garner said his main concern was stopping the fire from hitting mature cypress trees along his boundary fence.

"If they had gone up, we would have lost the house."

Mr Garner said he had a fire plan but he didn't have time to activate it.

"You always try to have a fire plan but it never works when it comes down to it."

He said the 30 minutes he and the two other men battled the fire seemed like hours. But despite the ordeal he considers himself fortunate.

"We lost a few fences but you hear of people losing their houses and sheds. We are the lucky ones."

The story 'We didn't have time to be frightened' first appeared on The Age.

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