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Listen to Episode Seven of the Voice of Real Australia podcast: A year on from the November 8 2019 bushfires that devastated the New England communities of Torrington and Wytaliba

On November 8 2019 a record 17 fires were burning at emergency level in New South Wales. It was still Spring. Three days later a state of emergency was declared.

Black Summer made headlines around the world, highlighting concerns about climate change, and prompting an independent inquiry in New South Wales.

"The brass in the piano actually started to melt. That's how hot it got", Torrington resident Richard Cork lost a property to fire on November 8, 2019. PHOTO: Andrew Messenger

"The brass in the piano actually started to melt. That's how hot it got", Torrington resident Richard Cork lost a property to fire on November 8, 2019. PHOTO: Andrew Messenger

The communities of Wytaliba and Torrington are nature retreats in the New England region with populations less than 100.

Wytaliba is a multioccupancy commune, home to hippies and alternative thinkers. Torrington was once a mining settlement and is now surrounded by conservation area.

The students of Wytaliba public school were let out early on November 8, 2019. Less than an hour later the school was ablaze. PHOTO: Supplied

The students of Wytaliba public school were let out early on November 8, 2019. Less than an hour later the school was ablaze. PHOTO: Supplied

On November 8, homes in Torrington over a century old burned, and in Wytaliba two people died.

Homes among the gum trees had become fodder for fire.

Coming back and everything was dead. It looked like something on Mars. I didn't recognise it at all. It was similar to what you'd expect an atom bomb to make.

Danielle Monk, Wytaliba resident

A year on, Wytaliba faces unique problems as regulation tightens around the former nudist colony. Meanwhile, Torrington residents try to feel safe again in the wilderness they love.

We speak to people from these communities about that devastating day and how their communities and lives have changed since.

About 60 homes burned during last year's unexpected fire in Wytaliba. PHOTO: Supplied

About 60 homes burned during last year's unexpected fire in Wytaliba. PHOTO: Supplied

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This story When these wilderness escapes became death traps first appeared on Newcastle Herald.