TRAPPED: 'We've got to get out now'
SURROUNDED by bushland at Shark Creek, Emma Prince received the worst-possible wake-up call at 3.15am on Sunday.
Woken by her frantic step-son, the message was clear: they had to get out now.
With a large bushfire bearing down on their 200ha property, Ms Prince bundled what she could into the car, including her three-year-old son.
The family tried to escape the blaze with a Rural Fire Service crew escort, only to be told the danger was too great and they had to return home.
"It was scary that we couldn't get out, the fire brigade had to tell us to back up and wait it out in the house," Ms Prince said.
"My step-son woke me up, he said 'we have to get out, we've got to go now', and I grabbed what I could, including my son, and tried to escape.
"When we got stuck, I knew we were in trouble and that was the most terrifying thing about it.
"There were two crews here, one at my neighbour's house. It was just too late to leave yesterday morning.
"We're tired, exhausted, my dad and brother have gone to work, considering they were helping the firefighters with buckets and hoses, we had to find every hose that we could to try and help but I just had to get my son out."
Ms Prince and her son eventually managed to escape to Yamba, where she spent Sunday night, before she returned to the fire-ravaged area this morning.
"I got back and there's no power, so we've just got to wait," she said.
"The bush is still smoking and smouldering so I hope nothing flares up again.
"It's going to be like this for days, I think."
Ms Prince moved to the Clarence Valley little more than a year ago from Sydney and while she said she had experienced dangerous bushfires in the past, nothing compared to the terrifying ordeal of Sunday morning.
"We talked about (bushfire danger) just over a week ago and then it happened," she said.
"My mum told me to start packing because we could see all the smoke.
"She said to start packing and I'm glad I did."