As searing heat beat down on the Wollongong city bitumen yesterday afternoon, Auburn Street butcher John Hastie did not break pace or stop work to wipe his brow.
Moving amongst the meat in five walk-in fridges and a walk-in freezer capable of minus 18 degrees, it was easy to forget the catastrophic fire risk hanging over the Illawarra.
"On [days like this] sometimes our customers don't want to leave," said Mr Hastie of Hasties Top Taste Meats.
He laid claim to one of the most desirable hot weather jobs yesterday as the mercury moved past 41 degrees in Wollongong.
Mr Hastie worked with his mind on the fire threat to his home at Balgownie at the foot of the dry Illawarra escarpment.
"There's a lot of houses between me and the bush but if it did come over [the escarpment] I don't think it would take much to come to ours," he said.