Smoke screen

I was outside with my dog, sitting on the top of the stairs and I hear, “Laurie, Laurie” being called fairly urgently by a male voice. Laurie is our slightly excentric neighbour who apparently grew up in Afghanistan and across the world. He is a third culture kid – in the late 50 year old sense. He has has an old once white toweling hat that never leaves his head, writes frequent petitions to improve the area, keeps old pink vans, his house is surrounded by bush, he cuts his grass in the middle of the night (so I’ve heard), is paranoid about bushfires yet still leaves his gutters uncleaned, and otherwise seems quite nice.

So I look over to see if I can find the owner of the voice and in surprise I see smoke billowing (there’s a cliche word if I ever heard one) out of the back of the house nextdoor. The voice is from the front neighbour – battleaxe block. I watched for a little bit and decided it wasn’t just burning off, the urgency in the voice confirmed that. There was no-one home – the silver van was not around. I walk inside and casually tell Dad he might want to take a look. He goes out on the verhanda and returns inside to the phone 000. There is more smoke.

Three fire trucks arrive. The other neighbour beat us to informing them. I am laughing at the situation, Laura is glaring at me and trying to wear a concerned face.

Dad lets us know that a burn off pile has reignited and climbed a tree. We cannot see any flames as the house is in the way.

The four of us watch from the verhanda and listen to the fire brigade’s loud speaker. He will most probably get prosecuted for burning off in a total ban. Hannah smartly tells me to get my camera.

The fire is put out quickly, but not before half the street have wandered down to check out what is going on. The silver van pulls in.


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