Family caught in Albany fire scare

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times
Bunbury couple Rebecca Old and Tim Atkinson with their daughter Ayla, 7 mths.
Camera IconBunbury couple Rebecca Old and Tim Atkinson with their daughter Ayla, 7 mths. Credit: Jon Gellweiler / South Western Times

A young Bunbury mother has told how she sent goodbye messages to her family as she, her partner and seven-month-old daughter were trapped in the middle of a ferocious bushfire.

Rebecca Old, her partner Tim Atkinson and their newborn Ayla were on the last night of a family getaway at Nutkin Lodge at Peaceful Bay when a blaze burnt out of control and forced those on the property to take emergency action.

The blaze was one of several which ravaged the Great Southern last week.

The young family spent about four hours inside their car in a small paddock alongside property owner Linda Hoskins and her family.

Flanked by six fire trucks and several brave firefighters working tirelessly to save their lives, Ms Old said there was a period where she thought “this is it”.

“There was probably about 45 minutes there when it got really scary when the fire was just everywhere and you’re just thinking ‘are we going to survive this’,” Ms Old said.

“That was really tough, I sent mum, dad, my brother and sister a message saying this is what’s happening, we’re stuck in a paddock, fire around us, I love you guys.

“I kept asking Tim if I could get her (Ayla) out of her car seat and hug her, because I thought what if this is going to be our last hug, but we knew we might have to take off at any minute.”

After hours earlier waking up at 9pm because he “just had a feeling” Mr Atkinson said after seeing the smoke, embers and red night sky, his fatherly instincts kicked in.

“My first thought was I just want to get her (Ayla) in the car and go ... I always had in my mind I was going to make a break for it, I was going to grab her and just run as fast as I could,” he said.

Ms Old praised the firefighters and Ms Hoskins for saving them.

“The firies were amazing, they saved our lives ... Linda the owner was great as well – they had a plan ready for us,” she said.

“When we saw the firies relaxing, there was just relief ... it was such a relief getting out of there in the end.”

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