My memories of the day Wentworth Falls burned is quite vivid – I was 10 years old. During the afternoon, we (the pupils at W/Falls Primary School) became aware of a huge column of smoke rising in the direction of Leura. The Teachers were obviously worried and all the school children were sent home around 2.30 p.m, around half an hour early.
My next memory is my Mother taking my brother and I and instructing us to join and go with the line of Grammar School boys and other children who had been evacuated from across the highway – Kenneth and Susan Bee (cannot recall who else).
This large group of children had been brought across the railway lines to Sinclair Crescent and were being taken to a safer area. We ended up in a small clearing just off Westbourne Ave about 4 houses down from Blaxland Road, where we were covered by blankets, which someone hosed with water from the Millers’ house constantly until it was deemed safe. I believe that the fire was contained around Blaxland Road.
When Mr & Mrs Bee arrived for their children. We learned that their home had been burnt.
The fire gutted our garage – which was some distance from the house and the fire burnt each side of the house. My Mother had been at the house hosing, while my Father was at our shop in the village where he tried to fight the fire there. There was some minor damage to the rear of the shop.
The primary school had a row of large pine trees along the Falls Road boundary that caught alight and sent live cinders onto the roof of the school. One brave boy Bruce Arthur, who was possibly 11 or 12 years old climbed onto the roof and extinguished the small fires thus saving the school from burning down. We were eventually envious of Leura’s new school and use to tease poor Bruce for being the hero and depriving us of a new school.