A potter whose property was engulfed in a “big plume of black smoke” survived an Australian wildfire by hiding in a makeshift kiln.
Steve Harrison, from Balmoral in New South Wales, stayed in there for half an hour while the “firestorm went over”.
“I was terrified,” he said, his voice shaking with emotion.
The fire came “in like three or four minutes”, bringing smoke “and then ember fallout”.
Mr Harrison built the kiln the day before the flames approached, eventually hunkering down with “my fire blanket and extinguisher”.
When the blaze arrived, he turned on his sprinklers and doused “the roofs and the walls”. That took “maybe five minutes”, he said.
After spraying water on his shed he went to his vehicle, but saw there was no way to escape.
“My garden was already on fire,” he said. “And the driveway was on fire, and the road was on fire. So I realised I couldn’t evacuate.”
He explained: “The day before, I had actually built myself a small kiln down the back. And a coffin sized kiln just big enough for me to crawl inside.”
He said he “planned to leave” but the fire “came too quick”.
Southerly winds fanned more than 100 fires in New South Wales alone on Saturday, with Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fizsimmons describing it as an “awful day” for firefighters.
Dozens of homes have been lost since Thursday.
Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, said it is not “credible” to link the fires with climate change.