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10th Jan 2013

The Picture Of Hope: Australian Grandparents Save Their Kids From Bushfire In The Sea

Tammy Holmes held onto their grandchildren in the sea as grandfather Tim snapped the moment.

It is the photograph that has given families across Tasmania hope.

This Australian family clung to a jetty for more than two hours while fires raged around them.

As the flames destroyed her home, grandmother Tammy Holmes was forced to enter the sea with her five young grandchildren.

Photographs taken by Mrs Holmes’ husband Tim, and released on Wednesday, show two-year-old Charlotte, four-year-old Esther, nine-year-old Liam, 11-year-old Matilda and six-year-old Caleb huddled together in the water.

The children’s mother, Bonnie Walker, had left them with her own parents while she attended a funeral.

She said: “We just waited by the phone and received a message to say that mum and dad had evacuated, that they were surrounded by fire, and could we pray. So I braced myself to lose my children and my parents.”

The family eventually found a dinghy to escape the fire zone, and dragged it about 300 metres to where the air was cleaner.

Mr Holmes told Sky News: “We saw tornadoes of fire just coming across towards us and the next thing we knew everything was on fire.

“I had sent Tammy … with the children to get down to the jetty because there was no other escape, we couldn’t get off.”

There are still more than 100 bushfires raging across south-eastern Australia, following a heatwave that saw the region scorched by off-the-scale temperatures.

Meteorologists have been forced to readjust their scales to accommodate the unprecedented heat in the country at the moment.