I was 13 years old at the time and lived in Katoomba. I can remember coming out of school with two of my mates, Alex MacArthur and Bruce Davies. We walked down the old school lane into Katoomba St knowing nothing of the drama in Leura at this point. We noted that there were no men in Katoomba St and it felt rather eerie. Somebody, I think it was Mrs Macarthur in their shop told us that all the men were fighting a fire in Leura. We walked through to Lurline St to see if we could see the fire.
I remember watching for some time as the fire proceeded from north to south along Jersey Ave. Houses were literally exploding one after the other and then for no explicable reason the fire would miss a house completely and the next one would explode. The devastation was incredible.
Later that evening my father and I went to Leura to see if we could help. I can remember seeing the ashes of the church in the Mall and in the night light it was quite scary for a 13 year old, in fact I could not sleep that night as shadows dancing on my bedroom wall aroused all sorts of thoughts in my very impressionable mind. So much so that I spent the night in bed with my parents. (something I did not admit to my mates)