The day a bushfire went off like a bomb and unleashed hell is still fresh in Frank Condello's mind.
Frank and his wife Lyn lost their home, the popular Yatte Yattah Nursery and one of their beloved dogs when the Currowan bushfire tore through villages like Conjola Park and left a wake of heartache and destruction behind on New Year's Eve.
Frank comes across as a strong and resilient man - but he is not afraid to admit that he has had some tough times.
He lets out a big sigh when asked about how he and his wife Lyn are going following the fire which cost them dearly.
"It had been bloody murderous - absolutely," Frank said.
He also asks why me all the time?
He also questions why this happened to his wife Lyn, their many friends, and vibrant the Conjola Park community.
Frank said it was hard to pick up their lives from all the ashes.
"You move on with bloody great difficulty," he said.
"I went up there the day after the fire and it was in total and absolute ruins," he recalls.
"The nursery, the house and the shop, sheds the cows, the neighbour's property, car and trucks - all gone.
"We literally lost everything."
Frank and Lyn ran the popular Tierney Road nursery for about 28 years.
They will start re-building their house just after Christmas.
He is not so sure about rebuilding the nursery.
Frank said not one person was to blame for the Conjola disaster.
"I don't give a bugger about what anyone else has said but nothing could have been done to stop it," he said.
"For around August to Christmas, we had no rain and there was not a blade of green grass anywhere - you think about it - not a blade of green grass anywhere."
He, like many others, tried to be prepared but the ferocious fire had a hunger for all the dry undergrowth that had surrounded the area.
"Here we are on New Year's Eve I had two fire pumps set up, I had watered everything and I had hoses ready," he said.
"I was dawdling up towards the front gate and looking over at the hill and all hell was breaking loose.
"I then got a phone call from a friend at Egans Farm Lane who was starting to get a bit worried.
"She said 'the fire is getting close' and I made her promise one thing - do not try to drive out of that place because she would be gone."
He then started walking back to his house.
"Then I turned around and walked to the front again. Then this almighty ball of fire came out the heavens and it dropped at the front gate," he said.
"It was like a bomb".
Frank, as you would, let a few choice words.
"Where did that come from," was his reaction.
He had time to ring up a neighbour to give them the heads up about the bomb like fire attack.
Frank thought it would miss the nursery.
"Forget it mate - it came down the driveway," he said.
"We had massive trees on the place and the fire was rolling along the trees and went straight through the nursery and took everything."
His fire-fighting equipment was useless.
Lyn, at the time, was in the house with Leonie who runs the nursery shop.
"She [Lyn] yelled at me to get into house before I was killed," he said.
"I grabbed the front doorknob and I could not open the door.
"I raced out to the back sliding door and went into the house. I sat in a chair and then I looked up at the ceilings - the fire was running along the ceilings.
"The whole of the house was on fire."
He yelled for Lyn and Leonie to get out and get out now.
They got in a car and tried to work out where they could go as things were burning and exploding around them.
"We managed to drive down to a paddock where a little area where the fire had gone through," he said.
"We were sitting in the car with the air conditioner going watching hell break lose all around us."
Frank also wanted to save their two border collies.
He then raced over to a neighbour's place to see if he could get help with the dogs but Frank just collapsed on his neighbour's lawn and then had to be taken to hospital.
However, he did manage to get a message to Lyn telling her it was safe to drive down the street and to get the dogs to the vets.
Lyn later had to tell Frank that their oldest border collie did not survive
Frank was not keen to stay in the hospital for too long.
"I was more exhausted than sick," he said.
Dr Paul Rothe then came to see Frank. Dr Paul, later on, took Frank down to Saunders Menswear and Craig Saunders helped fit him with clothes.
Frank literally only had the clothes he was wearing.
The 81-year-old even lost his identification cards.
"I didn't even have an identity - nothing. All I had was a shirt and a pair of jeans that were burnt on the bottom and a pair of boots that still have burnt soles on them," he said.
He had a bonsai collection and some of the trees were 65 years of age and one of them was a "magnificent" fig but they are now ashes.
Frank had planned to donate the fig to the Canberra Arboretum in honour of his granddaughter Zoe.
"They would have gladly taken it but we did not get that far," he lamented.
Frank recently help out with the Convoy of Hope which he enjoyed because he was contributing to the community.
Convoy of Hope ran a regrow program that gave people on Conjola Park free plants to help their rebuilding.
Lyn and Frank have been living in Lake Conjola in a granny flat since the fire - thanks to an offer from a friend.
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