Colin Elwin does not know the pilot flying the yellow helicopter over the Dudley area near Newcastle this morning, but he wants to shake his hand.
The long-time Dudley resident has watched the pilot use his water crane to protect Mr Elwin’s property and others in Caldwell Street and Sherrian Close for the past two days.
Today, the winds have picked up causing the fire between Redhead and Dudley to flare up.
About 10.30am the Rural Fire Service upgraded the fire from an advice warning to watch and act, after it jumped the popular Fernleigh walking track.
Helicopters are filling up using nearby lagoons to water bomb a number of trouble spots in the bushland, which is bordered by homes in both Dudley and Redhead.
Two public schools in the region today, Dudley and Redhead Public, are in.
The only road into Redhead has been closed this morning by fire crews because of smoke.
A haze hangs over the two suburbs and the constant sound of helicopters overhead pervade.
A number of concerned residents have gathered at a lookout in Dudley to keep tabs on the fire’s progress.
Mr Elwin says it brings back memories of a fire in the area in 1979.
He says this time authorities are far better organised and he has high praise for the pilots.
“If anybody needs a medal, they do,” he said.