A FIREFIGHTER’S wife was caught-up in the devastating Blue Mountains bush fires while visiting relatives in Australia.

Janice Nolan, aged 57, of Ling Drive, Atherton, has told how she and her sister’s family were evacuated twice from a bungalow just streets away from an area where homes were destroyed in the inferno west of Sydney in New South Wales.

Mrs Nolan had been in Australia for four-and-a-half weeks when the wildfires spread to Falconbridge where she was enjoying a six-week adventure with her sister and brother-in-law, Christine and Denis Hull, both aged 63.

They emigrated from Hindley 36 years ago.

“I had seen smoke but hadn’t had the television on so wasn’t aware of how serious things were,” said Mrs Nolan, just hours after arriving back in England. “We were advised to prepare to leave and it was hectic with helicopters ever-ywhere dropping water on the flames that were getting closer on three sides.

“It was like being in our home off Tyldesley Road with huge fires raging at Howe Bridge, Four Lane Ends and Tyldesley.

“We went to Seven Hills to stay overnight with my nephew, Steven, then returned the following day but the authorities told us we had to get out again and were only allowed to return on October 24.

“It has prepared the family for a state of emergency should anything like that ever happen again. It was frightening.”

Seven properties were destroyed just three streets away from her sister’s home, a nearby school was evacuated and two houses torched close by.

Mrs Nolan said: “I’m still concerned for my sister and family and when I was leaving they asked me to send them some rain when I arrive home.”

Her husband Mike, aged 57, is a retired fireman who was based at Salford and Bolton.

The fires interrupted her plans for a shopping spree for relatives but she did bring home a big toy Kangaroo from her Australian trip.

She presented it to her grandson, Harr-ison, on Tuesday for his third birthday at son Mark’s and daughter-in-law Amy’s home at Gadbury Fold, Atherton.