I don't know what made Tim Holmes grab his camera before outrunning the bushfire that destroyed his Tasmanian home. But that decision resulted in some of the most indelible images of modern photography.
Holmes and his wife Tammy were babysitting their five grandchildren when they saw "tornadoes of fire" approaching, Holmes told reporters . He sent his wife and children down to the water, where they submerged themselves up to their necks to take advantage of the thin layer of breathable air above the water. Their ordeal in the cold water lasted for three hours, while the fires destroyed the village of Dunalley and consumed the Holmes' home, shop and pottery.
The children's mother was about to attend a funeral when the flames broke out, blocking the road to the grandparents' house. She was reduced to waiting by a phone to hear news of her parents and her children, ages 2, 4, 6, 9 and 11.
Yes, grandparents should have a disaster plan, and it should include the possibility that the grandchildren will be in their care. But courage and a cool head also play a role. And as compelling as these photos are, the wonderful news is that the grandchildren and their grandparents survived.