'It looks like you've been nuked': text message delivers worst news

GUTTED: What remains of Peter Simons' half built home at Flat Rock.
GUTTED: What remains of Peter Simons' half built home at Flat Rock.

Peter Simons got word via text message the home he'd been building on Old Coach Road at Flat Rock had been destroyed.

"I received a text message from a neighbour who had walked the Old Coach Road to see the aftermath of the fires. He texted me and said, 'It looks like you've been nuked'," he said.

Mr Simons attended the community meeting at Ulladulla on Friday afternoon, where he spoke with RFS incident controller Mark Williams.

He was told because access was needed to the trig station, clearing Old Coach Road was a priority and would be done by Saturday afternoon.

On Sunday morning he drove out and saw the devastation.

"I had two neighbours stay out there and quite frankly I think they're lucky to be alive given the ferocity and the fast movement of the fire front."

Mr Simons had been building the home for a couple of years.

TRAUMATISED: Peter Simons will use on himself the skills he's picked up working in mental health. Photo: John Hanscombe

TRAUMATISED: Peter Simons will use on himself the skills he's picked up working in mental health. Photo: John Hanscombe

"We were trying to complete it this year. It needed roofing and obviously the interior. There was some partial roofing started."

Mr Simons stayed in a small caravan when he was working at the property. That, too, has been lost.

"We're insured for building materials," he said.

He has registered with the Red Cross for a disaster assessment team to visit his property.

"They'll set a date and come out and inspect all the properties in the district. After that assessment is done we will see the insurance company."

As he drove out on Sunday, Mr Simons was under no illusions about what he would find.

"When I came out of the lee of the mountain, when I came to the western side, I knew there was no way anything was going to be left standing."

I knew there was no way anything was going to be left standing

Peter Simons

A former photojournalist with Trax magazine, Mr Simons now works in disability support and mental health.

"I guess I'm going to have to apply some of my training to myself - train the trainer," he said. "There's certainly a bit of trauma there."

Mr Simons is no stranger to bushfires. In the 30-odd years he has owned the property he has seen three major blazes.

"I had never seen anything like this though. Before, the fire would come from one front and that was very predictable. But here the wind was swapping around from the northwest to the west to the southwest."

While the inferno took out the bush and the structures, the native fish in his dam survived.

Mr Simons thanked the people fighting the fire and his friends who had offered support.

SCORCHED EARTH: The bush around Mr Simons' property has been devastated.

SCORCHED EARTH: The bush around Mr Simons' property has been devastated.