Homes on Lake Road threatened as bushfire rages and temperatures soar

Port Macquarie News, Tuesday, November 19, 1968

Mr President-elect: Les Davies, Port Macquarie Chamber of Commerce vice president, accepted his nomination for president,1968. Photos supplied.

Mr President-elect: Les Davies, Port Macquarie Chamber of Commerce vice president, accepted his nomination for president,1968. Photos supplied.

Above the Century

In what must have been one of the hottest days on record, the thermometer at the pilot station was above the century mark almost all day yesterday.

It reached a maximum of 105 degrees in the early afternoon. This was only one degree below Kempsey’s maximum temperature and two degrees below Bellingen’s. Wauchope has no official temperature record, but private individuals reported readings as high as 110 degrees.

At the pilot station, the temperature jumped from 78 to 97 degrees between 9am and 9.45am. It reached a maximum of 103 degrees before a gusty wind dropped the temperature to 100 degrees at midday.

However, the mercury rose again when this wind dropped, reaching a maximum of 105 degrees by 3pm. The weather station at the high school recorded 105 degrees at 10am.

Lake Road as it was in the 1960s: A raging bushfire threatened four homes when it came within 20 feet of their back steps in 1968.

Lake Road as it was in the 1960s: A raging bushfire threatened four homes when it came within 20 feet of their back steps in 1968.

Fire beaten back from four homes

Four homes on Old Lake Road were close to being destroyed completely when a raging bushfire came within 20 feet of their back steps on Sunday. Fire leapt 100 feet into the air and trees “exploded” into flames with the intense heat.

The brigade and over a dozen residents fought for four hours to control the blaze, which kept breaking out in different locations. All homes and property were saved, although several thousand acres of bush and scrub country was burnt out.

The fire was first reported at 11.30am. It is believed to have started near the council rubbish tip and advanced from a scrub fire to a fully-fledged bushfire, flames leaping from tree to tree.

The first home to be threatened was Ken Hope’s residence. The brigade had this blaze under control when sparks carried by the wind started another fire advancing on Hennessey’s nursery farm. Further outbreaks had the brigade rushing to other homes in the area.

The fire captain, Tom Gaul, told the News that burning back and hand beating were the only means the brigade had of fighting the fire. He said there was no water available and the brigade’s supply would not “cool a tree”. Mr Gaul said if any of these homes had caught alight, the brigade would have had little chance of preventing the fire from gutting the whole house.

New president for Chamber of Commerce

Port Macquarie Chamber of Commerce has a new president elect. He is vice president Les Davies, manager of the Port Macquarie Branch of Dunlop Tyre Service. Mr Davies, who presided at Thursday night’s meeting of the executive committee, agreed to his nomination being recommended to the next general meeting of members on November 28.

Regarding the need for improved toilet facilities in the town for use of visitors and shoppers, a sub-committee of the Chamber will confer with a sub-committee of the Tourist Authority. This action was taken by the executive after the new tourist promotion officer Greg Hannant had briefly addressed the meeting. Mr Hannant said his committee had in mind the eventual removal of the Information Centre to a site alongside the CWA Hall and the new premises to incorporate a rest room for visitors and townspeople.

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