This post focuses on the factors that we believe helped save our place and includes aspects of our permaculture design intended to reduce the threat, as well as what we learned from our recent experience. Comments relate specifically to our location and personal observations, and may not apply under different conditions.
Our house is mudbrick with small amounts of exposed timber and built on a slab. Embers blown up against the exposed slab are easily spotted and extinguished. Exposed timber surfaces are smooth so embers blow off. We kept the house profile low so that a firestorm’s embers and radiant heat would largely pass overhead. Before and during the fire we continually wetted down external surfaces-especially vulnerable parts of the roof structure. The eastern wall is earth covered, giving that wall more protection and allowing us to gain quick access to the roof.
On the northern side (the most likely direction of a firestorm) the bulk of the forest is 80m away. We located our dam and vegetable patch between us and the forest to create a low risk buffer. As fires tend to race up slopes we built our house on an area with a low gradient. Our orchard is located to the northeast of the house providing another green buffer and a wide driveway with cleared sides provides a firebreak to the west and south. This photo is taken from our roof looking north. The burnt forest can be seen on the other side of the dam.