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News - Customer stories

The Patersons: standing up to the heat

“It was dark, it was really dark. We couldn’t see any flames because of the amount of smoke that was coming at us.”

The words coming from Malua Bay local Fraser Paterson are measured and calm. But the tale he is retelling of his experience of the 2019 New Year’s Eve fire was anything but calm.

“It was scary,” adds Tracey, Fraser’s wife, with a more emotional tone. “But we didn’t have time to think. We just had to act.”

When the Paterson’s moved two years ago to beautiful Malua Bay

in the South Coast region of New South Wales, they knew they were home. They picked a fabulous piece of land up on a knoll with spectacular views of the ocean surrounded by Australian native forest at the base of the hill. They started to build their new lives in this special part of the world, even opening a picture framing business from home. They were aware of the risks, of course, with the knowledge that there were possibilities of bush fires in the area. But due to the position of their house on their property, they decided that they could defend their home from a fire if the worst happened. They planned well and took precautions, commissioning a mobile fire trailer to be made and kept in their shed with 1000 litre water capacity and the necessary pumps and hoses required to fight off a possible future fire.

Little did they know how soon that trailer would be needed.

“No one really expected what was about to happen,”

Fraser continues as he recounts the events of New Years Eve 2019. He goes on to say how there were government warnings sent by texts but the general word was that the worst of the fire was going to bypass Malua Bay. That all changed within minutes when a change in wind sent the fire baring down straight towards the Paterson’s home.

“The intensity of the heat was beyond anything I have ever experienced,” says Fraser as he thinks back on how Fraser and Tracey fought the flames threatening to destroy their home. “We planned for the worst scenario,” continues Fraser. “And unfortunately that was just the case,” inputs Tracey.

After many brave hours defending their property, the exhausted Paterson’s were finally able to put an end to the multiple spot fires that surrounded them. It was time to take stock of what had been saved and what had been lost.

“Pretty much everything had been destroyed.” Among the destruction was the Paterson’s shed still filled with precious belongings from their move. The flames engulfing the shed were so ferocious, it threatened their house. Thankfully, due to their extraordinary efforts, Fraser and Tracey were able to save the house. And most importantly, the Patersons survived the ordeal physically unscathed.

“Everyone was traumatised in some way,” says Tracey as she thinks about the effect of that fire on her community and neighbours.

As we Australians know, the effects of a bush fire

don’t stop when the flames subside. The rebuilding of the Malua Bay community is an ongoing tale but the Patersons are committed to remaining in the area that they have made their home. Part of their rebuilding efforts included finding a replacement shed. After a lot of research and thought, Fraser and Tracey decided to look at a Wide Span Shed.

“The requirement was that it looks nice,” Tracey says as she recalls their process of purchasing a new shed. That was a key reason they approached Wide Span Sheds, working closely with a shed design specialist to put together the perfect shed for their property. “We got to choose the colours we wanted and we think we came up with a really good looking shed,” Tracey continues.

A great looking shed wasn’t the only thing they were after. They also need a shed with resilience that was structurally sound to stand up to the elements. “It's so well built,” pipes in Fraser commenting on the support structures of the steel building. “And the quality is fantastic.” The Patersons specifically commented on how the Colorbond steel on this shed design comes down and finishes below the edge of the concrete slab. “We feel that this is more fire safe,” Tracey explains.

Once they had finalised a shed design,

the Patersons were pleased with the ease of the order and delivery process. “We had no problem at all with the whole ordering process,” complements Fraser with Tracey adding, “Very smooth.”

Although the continued rebuild of communities like Malua Bay affected by bush fires will not be easy, the tough, optimistic spirit of the Patersons is certainly one that Wide Span Sheds admires. We are so pleased that these legends decided to build one of our sheds.

As our conversation with the Patersons came to a close, Fraser had this to say:

“We didn’t want to compromise with this shed at all so that’s why we went with Wide Span.”

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