Jackie: For this week's podcastsinenglish.com, we're talking about a narrow escape. With me is Peter. Hi, Peter.
Peter: Hello, Jackie.
Jackie: You had something horrible happen to you recently.
Peter: Well, we were… had a narrow escape from the country's largest forest fire.
Jackie: What exactly happened?
Peter: Well, we'd been out to lunch and we were driving home in the car and we spotted a huge plume of smoke in the distance and we actually thought it was coming from near your house originally [Jackie laughs] and so as soon as we were getting closer to home we realised that it was on the hillside opposite our house and nowhere near you.
Jackie: And so you were getting a little bit alarmed at this stage.
Peter: Well, we were initially until we got into the village and everyone was standing around watching the display across the valley.
Jackie: And they weren't too anxious.
Peter: Er… not at the time no because it started off in quite a small area.
Peter: …and there were lots of firemen* around and a couple of helicopters.
Peter: And it looked under control.
Jackie: Fine. And… and it wasn't?
Peter: Er… it was for a few hours and they seemed to leave it and then two hours later, just as it was getting dark, the fire jumped a firebreak…
Peter: …and started off into the forest again and got a lot bigger.
Jackie: And that was coming towards your house then, was it? Was it approaching your house?
Peter: It was coming down the valley towards our house but going along the hillside but not coming down because fire has trouble going downhill.
Jackie: Oh, does it?
Peter: It does, yeah. It goes uphill very well because it goes with the air.
Peter: But not downhill into the cool areas as well.
Jackie: Okay so it was on the other side of a dip, so it would have to come down… down and then up to get to your house.
Peter: Yes. And we've got a small river between us as well.
Jackie: Okay so you were feeling a little bit, probably a bit nervous, but knowing you weren't going to be affected at this stage.
Peter: Um… I was a little nervous, yes. Helen, my partner was very, very nervous um… and when it did jump across the track into the forest it increased in size and intensity and because it was getting dark you could see it a lot more…
Peter: …and so I started to get worried then and I’d asked Helen to pack a few bags of our essentials.
Jackie: You packed some of your bags.
Peter: Yes, our documents, our computers and things like that.
Jackie: Could you… could you feel the heat at this stage or not?
Peter: Um… not the first couple of hours. After about four or five hours is when it came closest to us about three or four hundred metres away.
Peter: …then you could feel the heat, and feel the wind caused by the fire as well.
Jackie: It creates a wind, does it?
Peter: Yes it sucks all the air into the area.
Jackie: It just sounds awful.
Peter: It was, yes um… and I spent the whole night on the balcony, asleep most of it but just in case while Helen tried to get some sleep inside. And I'd watered all the garden 'cos everything was tinder dry and it went past us um… but it did burn for about three or four days and it still even now ten days later it’s still flaring up in little places. It's a very watched area now because the firemen are on top of it. And we're due some rain in a few days so that should damp it all down.
Jackie: But a very frightening experience.
Peter: It was indeed, yes.
* Nowadays the term firefighters is preferred as many are women.