2021 Shortlisted

Louise Coghill – The Fire

By June 16, 2021 No Comments

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At 15:26:00pm on February 1st I grab my camera and walk to our neighbours house. The wind is hot and dry. It’s unruly, and strange for this time of year. It blows ash towards our home. Dad stands atop the hill with Lee, our neighbour. “Hopefully we get a wind change,” Dad says, as the smoke overshadows our house to the right. He knows what I’m still unaware of, without a wind change, the fire will reach us. Twenty five years of history at this house gives Dad hope that the wind will change. It always does.
At 16:32:17pm I’m in my parents bedroom waiting. I don’t know what I’m waiting for. Waiting for the fire to pass? Waiting for the house to burn? There are no thoughts for what was or what will be, I can think only in the seconds surrounding me. My memory is now only attached to the photos I collected. At 16:34:56 a spot fire starts. And within 30 seconds a raging inferno erupts on the other side of the glass. I don’t remember if I felt the heat. I don’t remember how much smoke was in the house. I just remember raising my camera and taking a photo, as I hear mum yell “it’s in the roof.”
We solemnly watch the house burn down from the safety of our pool. In a strange way it feels right that we’re here to bear witness, and that I’m here to capture it. It feels like my responsibility. I owe it to all those who lost their homes last year, today and in the many years to come; to capture the personal devastation that a natural disaster brings, in a world where disasters such as these, are only becoming more common.

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