A Black Saturday survivor who was put in an induced coma after getting caught by the fires while trying to defend the family home, is preparing to rebuild, the Bushfires Royal Commission has heard. St Andrews resident Peter Wiltshire, a volunteer CFA member, says despite his plan to stay and defend the family home on February 7, the fire was too intense to save the property.
He says several items on his property, including a horse float, combusted with no flames around them, because the radiant heat was so intense. "It ignited without being touched by any flame," he told the commission. He says when he first tried to put out spot fires, he was surprised the water was not extinguishing the flames and he realised they were fighting a losing battle.
He says he watched a fireball come across their property and melt the window frames. His wife suffered burnt heels while trying to put out a spot fire in the paddock and Mr Wiltshire suffered burns to his face and both arms. He was taken to hospital by police car and was put in an induced coma for 24 hours. He is still wearning compression bandages.
Mr Wiltshire says he and his wife had been meticulous in their preparations to fight the bushfires and there was only one tree on their 21.5 acre property. However, he found that the fuel in his power generator evaporated, which meant the water pump was not operational. He says the CFA training he and his wife received helped them to keep calm while fighting the fires.
"The fire came so quickly, we weren't frightened, just busy trying to defend the house."
He says the planning permit to rebuild the family home on their property has been issued. However he said there will be some changes, including double glazing on the windows and a double brick garage.
"The building permit is imminent, we've been told. The builder who built our house 25 years ago is almost ready to build again."