AS last Tuesday’s fire roared through Jerrawangala and then bore down on Wandandian a number of residents were evacuated, while others chose to stay and defend their homes.
Site managers of Shell Wandandian, Tony and Liz Makhlouf, had a bet each way, with Liz taking the couple’s nine-month-old son Oliver to Huskisson while staff were told to leave.
Mr Makhlouf stayed on site to assist the RFS volunteers, ensuring fuel was available as well as food and other supplies.
“We were worried for the local residents and their homes and animals but the firies were fantastic. They did a great job ensuring Wandandian was safe,” Mrs Makhlouf said.
“They were fantastic, real heroes.”
Mr Makhlouf stayed at the petrol station until it was deemed unsafe.
“He was told it was time to go late in the afternoon,” Liz said.
“There were concerns that if our station went up everything around it would go as well.”
So moved by the efforts of the local RFS volunteers, Westside Petroleum director Terry Makhlouf, who owns the Wandandian site, is set to make donations to three local brigades at Wandandian, Sussex Inlet and St Georges Basin.
“I can’t praise the men and women of the RFS enough,” he said.
“They did a wonderful job.
“It is the first time we have ever experienced any of our 25 stations being evacuated.
“The firies are so professional and are real heroes in my eyes. They are out there saving lives – full credit to them.”
Like many businesses in the area the Shell Wandandian has a red RFS helmet on its counter to help support the local brigade.
“We encourage customers to put their change in the helmet for the Wandandian brigade, although they don’t need much prompting, especially the locals, they are all happy to give to support our brigade,” Mrs Makhlouf said.