News State Victoria News ‘Legend’ saves family’s home from bushfire

‘Legend’ saves family’s home from bushfire

Vineyard on the Jacobs' property
Tom Jacobs.
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A volunteer firefighter has broken down when speaking about his “legendary” mate who saved his Separation Creek home after leaving to protect his family.

CFA volunteer Peter Jacobs fled his home with his wife Bronwyn and two children, Tom and Molly, after they gave him an ultimatum.

“They said ‘if you stay, we stay’, so I had to get out,” Mr Jacobs told the ABC.

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But “Anglesea legend”, friend and long time CFA member Billy Bubb came to the Jacobs family home’s rescue.

“When I came back from being on the hose at Wye River, he said ‘Peter, I’ve been round to your place’,” Mr Jacobs said.

“I grabbed him by the shoulder and said ‘yeah?’ He said, ‘I’ve saved your house, Peter’.

Jacobs family Separation Creek
Peter and Bronwyn Jacobs fled their home with daughter Molly (L) and Tom. Picture: Tom Jacobs.

“I’m indebted to him, he’s a legend.

“He stayed there with all the sprinklers on — I lost all my water and everything, tools and sheds and stuff.”

The family’s vineyard on their 100-acre property was also destroyed.

Mr Jacobs broke down in tears when recalling the discovery of two of his animals found dead.

The family packed up their two dogs, cat and chook into the car when they left, but had to leave behind goats and sheep.

“I had animals I had to leave and I’ve just found two of them up the hill,” Mr Jacobs said through tears.

“There was no escape for them.”

Mr Jacobs has worked as a volunteer firefighter for 20 years and said Friday night was by far the worst he had seen.

But, at home, he was well prepared for a fire, with sprinklers and shutters on the windows.

“… you don’t realise when it’s here, it’s horrendous. You get scared.”

Peter Jacobs, CFA volunteer

“I had a fire plan and had my hoses out, being in the CFA I knew what to expect,” he said.

“[But] you don’t realise when it’s here, it’s horrendous. You get scared.

The Jacobs home in Separation Creek
The Jacobs’ home in Separation Creek escaped the fire. Picture: Tom Jacobs.

“The hardest thing I had to do last night; I stayed up with Tony Maly, together him and I just watched his house burn from the surf club. [It was] shocking.

“He lost everything he owned, and had his car up there as well, he’s lost everything.”

Son Tom, who was visiting from Melbourne for Christmas, has been capturing video of the events, and through his social media coverage became a point of contact for many worried residents.

“We’ve been [going] around seeing where friends’ houses are lost. People have been enquiring whether their houses are still there,” Mr Jacobs said.

Wife Bronwyn grew up in the area and was there for the last devastating bushfires in 1962.

“That destroyed quite a few houses in Wye River and they all went to the beach, put their possessions on the beach and stayed the night,” Mr Jacobs said.

“Today they are not recommending go on the beach, although I think we probably could have. We saw a few koalas on the beach last night — they survived.”

Mr Jacobs thanked the people who “saved Separation Creek” and parts of Wye River.

“The fire bombers have saved Wye River, they really did, the water fire bombers, the helicopters — they saved Separation Creek,” he said.

“They just did an amazing job. All the services, we had appliances from Lethbridge, Portarlington and they came from everywhere.”

Peter Jacobs is a fine artist, but said the fires would not be creative inspiration.

“A lot of my 50 years of artwork is here, I was hoping that wasn’t destroyed.”