New Italy Museum Committee secretary Peter Blackwood was grateful the fire did not reach any of the buildings.
New Italy Museum Committee secretary Peter Blackwood was grateful the fire did not reach any of the buildings. Marc Stapelberg

Fire came perilously close to museum full of treasures

THE New Italy Museum closed on the afternoon on Monday, November 11 because the fires were getting closer.

New Italy Museum committee secretary Peter Blackwood said it was better to shut in case caravans stopped over night in the car park space unaware of the impending fire danger.

On Tuesday, the fire burning along Whites Rd came close.

"We were as nervous as long-tail cats in a room full of rocking chairs,” he said.

Mr Blackwood and volunteers rushed to retrieve museum items and load them in their cars.

He still had the heavy World War I Role of Honour in the back of his car.

"We have a wonderful silk collection in a cabinet but to move it is a logistical exercise,” he said.

"How would we explain to members and families who have donated to the museum?”

Revising the fire plan was essential, Mr Blackwood said.

"This is a big learning curve for us.”

Sprinklers were out of the question, because one of the museum buildings was made of flammable melaleuca poles.

"We need a contact list of volunteers to get all the donated items from Italian families out of here,” he said.

The museum association was formed in 1981 and the New Italy Museum established soon after that.

"We're here now - we hope we're here tomorrow,” Mr Blackwood said.