Last man standing saved inn from bushfires with a bucket in Marysville, Victoria
GREG Cherry stood yesterday afternoon like an apparition on the veranda of his perfectly-intact restaurant and bar in the ruined town of Marysville.
Surrounded by the charred remains of virtually every other building in the alpine hamlet, the owner of the Crossways Historic Country Inn was the last man standing in the town of 700.
After sending his wife away to safety in Alexandra, he chose to stay and fight the inferno, bucket by bucket. That's all he had to douse his log inn and, against impossible odds, he won, despite losing his family home and another property to the fire.
"I just thought, bugger it, I'm not going, I'm going to stay and try to save this place. We'd put too much into it to let it just go up in flames," Mr Cherry told The Australian.
Late on Saturday when the fire raced through the town in minutes, taking everything in its path with it, and reducing the place to a town of brick chimneys and twisted corregated iron, Mr Cherry hid under a bridge with a soaking towel over his head.
"I reckon I was there for about an hour and a half and at times it got pretty hairy as I couldn't breathe but I just covered my mouth with the towel and that gotme through the worst moments," he said.
He put on sunglassess and sunscreen and ridiculous as this sounds, it appears to have worked. He admits the radiant heat that kills so many in fires was intense. "It got pretty warm up here and the buildings were too hot to touch."
His four-wheel-drive, which was parked in his carport next to the inn is a burnt out shell, the Anglican Church across the road is no more and his neighbours' homes are smouldering rubble.
Gas bottles kept exploding throughout the night. "They sounded just like bombs going off. And the roar of the flames was like hundreds of jumbo jets flying just across your roof."
Mr Cherry said he didn't leave with the last of the evacuees on Sunday because he had too much work to do cleaning up. And friends to find. His luck has run out there.
"I've lost at least two that I know of and there's more dead in these streets."