A fallen tree branch has brought down powerlines at Mount Kembla, sparking a hidden fire in the walls of a family's home, and inspiring a "Olympics-style" hurdling effort from an eight-year-old boy who stood in its path.
The tree gave out some warning sounds before several branches swung down on James Drive about 9.30am.
Standing in its path, Kai Thompson, 8, told how he timed his run to miss one branch, then hurdled over it as others came down.
"I saw half of the tree come down … I ran … to the front of it so when it stopped I could just jump over,” he said.
"I was confused ... dad was screaming at me.
“My heart was pumping faster and faster.
“All these branches kept falling.
“It was like the summer Olympics, where you jump over those things [hurdles].”
Kai’s father, tradesman Scott Thompson, was working on a friend’s house on the street when he heard “crackling noises” coming from the tree, shortly before it fell.
“We were having morning tea out the front.
“There was this deep crack. It happened about three times over a minute and a half and the next thing it just came down.
“As it came down it grabbed these [power] lines here and they wrapped around each other and they all sparked and arced.
“I yelled to [Kai] to run. Luckily he ran this way and it just missed him.”
Meantime, inside the house, sparks began flying from the ceiling and the smoke alarm sounded, startling home owner Natalie O’Brien and her three children.
Smoke came out of the power box. Hidden by plasterboard, wires inside the walls sparked and caught alight.
It took arriving firefighters some time to find the fire, said Fire and Rescue NSW’s Unanderra captain Paul Dawson.
“The fire was inside a wall cavity, which made it extremely hard to locate,” he said.
“After an extensive search we found it ... broke open the gyprock, exposed the fire and put the fire out.
“It was lucky we found it quickly considering we weren’t coming to a house fire, were were coming to [a report of] wires down.”
Mr Dawson said the incident showed the importance of smoke alarms.
“It could have happened at night. It is unusual but it can happen, that’s why we have working smoke alarms in our home.”
Waiting for her husband to return home from work, Mrs O’Brien said she was thankful she and her children were unharmed.
“I know there’s a big hole in my bedroom wall now but at least we’re all safe.”