Our knowledge of this fire comes from an account written by Edward Knight Brown of 'Painui' not long after the fire occurred and kindly lent by Helen Naylor. The following is a summary.

Summer was hot and dry and the grass was all burnt from the heat and hot dry winds. On the morning of 13th December, Edward's two sons set out on horseback for Bell Station with the cattle, which were to be sent by rail to Mudgee. There were bush fires in every direction with a 'howling' North West wind. When they reached Mt Wilson 'they had to rush the cattle into the fire to get them through, after a break back on the part of the mob, causing no small anxiety to the drivers'.

Back at Mt Irvine Edward was checking the spring to make sure the water supply was in order when black smoke from the west darkened the sky and flames a half mile wide appeared. His first thought was for 20 milking cows and he ran through falling branches and bark to their paddock which was by this time ablaze. Some cows were missing and nothing could be done for the silo so, with cinders falling and Edward's shirt catching fire, the cattle were rushed down the hill to the homestead. Meanwhile his daughter had rounded up most of the sheep to safety.

Dead stumps in the clearing round the house had caught fire and from the homestead they could see that the sawmill on their neighbours property (the Andersons, below Mt Irvine Road opposite 'Painui') was on fire. Mrs Anderson and her 2 children fled to 'Painui', having lost everything apart from what they were wearing. A log fence near the barn caught fire and the family and their assistant, Alfred Howe, worked to keep the buildings (barn, house, stable, cart shed) from burning. The children meanwhile 'screamed themselves almost into fits'. Fires started in all the buildings but fortunately at different times and they had a good water supply. Only a few outplaces were burnt.

At 6.00pm the wind changed and everyone collapsed on the lawn, exhausted. Not long after a whirlwind came along, gathered up all the embers and once again buildings were threatened by a shower of burning embers. It took an hour before the buildings were safe. At 11.00pm the two sons arrived home with their horses.

The fire continued for several days around them but they were out of danger. All the fences were damaged, the log fences destroyed, nearly all the grass destroyed, the crops smashed down with debris, 6 acres of oats scorched, all the shelter sheds burned and numerous fruit trees scorched. On Friday 17th they cut the oats to feed the now almost starving stock. Some of the fat lambs were sent to Sydney and all except for 6 of the cows were turned out into the unburnt scrub to look after themselves. This all but closed down the diary. The following Wednesday the rain started – 14 inches in 60 hours, sweeping away hundreds of tons of soil from the orchard.

Within a fortnight Mt Irvine had experienced drought, fire and flood.

Fires usually come from the north and west but the fire of 1957 came from the south. There were a number of fires around Leura that year, one of which did enormous damage at Leura and it was thought that it was that fire that crossed the Grose to Mt Wilson and Mt Irvine. There was a very strong wind blowing and the story is that it travelled '20 miles in 20 minutes'. Sid Kirk was on Wynnes Rocks Road and saw it jump to Mt Banks then skip across to Mt Wilson.

You will note that on the Zig Zag now there are no very large sassafras trees, as they were all burnt. The big eucalypts survived because those eucalypts can reshoot from epicormic buds (buds underneath the bark) whereas the sassafras trees have to reshoot from the roots.

The fire continued to the south of Mt Wilson creating spot fires below Jalscene and Merry Garth. Once again the vegetation gives us the clues as to the progress of the fire. One of the loveliest sights is the stand of Mountain Ash from Zircon Creek along Mt Irvine Road. They are tall and slim and all the same size. Mountains Ashes do not sprout from epicormic buds or lignotubers but rather from seed. These stands all arose from the ash after the 1957 fires.

When they heard of the fires the Naylor family came up from Sydney via Bowens Creek Road. The fire had reached the road and the wooden culverts were alight. Ron ordered the family out of the car and drove at speed over the culverts – just in case they collapsed. The fire continued around Irvinholme and one of the sheds caught fire from radiant heat. Helen's mother, Marjorie Morley, then in her sixties, put it out with a leather beater and buckets of water.

The fire destroyed the Mt Irvine School (where the current hall and tennis court are located), the home of Miss Jacob (now Willowbank), who had the telephone exchange, and Charlie Clarke's cottage (below Mt Irvine station). It also burnt the garage at 282 Mt Irvine Rd and the steps and garage at Corybas. Peter Kirk and Bill Brown were fighting the fires with knapsacks at Mt Irvine. At Corybas they cut the top off the water tank and used buckets of water to fight the fires. Fire fighting equipment in our two villages has definitely changed!

Children who were staying at Bowenlea with Nell Knight-Brown and at Taihoa with Ruth Scrivener were taken to shelter in the middle of a paddock (Painui) and covered with blankets. Ruth Scrivener, with daughter Vicki being not yet two, remembers being terrified and, although a country girl, had never experienced bushfires. Nevertheless, she shut the windows, filled buckets and soaked a blanket to use in putting out the flames.

Meanwhile Bill Scriverner was stuck at the Zig Zag. He couldn't drive up so walked up and met Jack Gunn. After clearing the Zig Zag they went and put out the fires below Peter Kirk's place (he was out at Mt Irvine).

After the fires the Southern, Sunday Ridge Spur and Northern fire trails and around Lamb's Hill were all built (probably laid out by Tom and Peter Kirk and built by Jack Tolhurst) and a dam constructed on Dane's Way. In January 2002, the dam was cleaned out only to be destroyed in July 2002 by National Parks personnel who, not having consulted the community, did not realise that the dam had been there for 45 years!

The 1957 fires were the start of a more organised 'Bush Fire Brigade'. About this time the old fire shed at Mt Wilson was built to house a truck from Headquarters and sometime later a small 4 wheel drive ute. Prior to this the Kirks, Gunns and Morleys all had their own trucks that they used to fight the fires.

On 26th December lightning started a fire at Lost Flat Mountain, North West of Mt Irvine. It is standard procedure now to send firefighters to remote areas by helicopter but perhaps this was the first example of a RAFT (Remote Area Firefighting Team). Alan Gunn, Paul Naylor, Mike McLean and Ed Knight Brown climbed into a Channel 7 helicopter and flew off. The helicopter had no door and Paul's seatbelt jammed. Although he eventually got it on, he thought he was going to fall out as the helicopter took off. Tinned peaches that they were taking for food rolled across the floor of the helicopter, out the door and down into the Wollangambe.

The helicopter landed in a swamp as that was the only flat ground. The only tools they had were 20 litre metal knapsacks and McCloud tools (rake hoes). Once they were out of water, Alan and Paul found a soak which they dug out to replenish their water supplies. They managed to contain the fire. The helicopter had left for another fire at Warragamba and did not return till nearly dark to take the men back. The helicopter pilot later commented that it was his most hazardous flight since Vietnam.

There were a lot of fires in NSW in 1968 and several came to Mt Wilson and Mt Irvine. A heavy fall of snow in 1967 meant that there were many dead branches to act as fuel for any fires. Some spring clearing at Glen Davis started a fire which you could see from Cecil Kirk's mine at Mt Irvine. Paul Naylor remembers watching this fire for months and it finally arrived on 27th November. He remembers being in the blitz with Kevin Gunn and Ed Knight Brown, coming down Danes Way and over Scrivener Pass through a tunnel of flame. The fire came slowly around Danes Way to Touri, then owned by Paul Finato. The spare wheel carrier of the blitz got caught in the hills hoist and, although they saved the property, Mr Finato was upset about the hills hoist!

Libby Raines remembers going out to Gowan Ross where Jane Smart was busy making meals for the firefighters. She and Bill Smart drove up to the top of Farrer Road and then down to meet Ron Smart, Alan Gunn and others who had a truck with water. The fire came up over Lambs Hill and burnt to Boronia Point and Farrer Road West. Libby remembers the men fighting the flames with knapsack sprays. She stayed on the back of the truck directing water from a short hose and helping to fill up the knapsacks. The men all worked long hours and used to snatch a few hours' sleep near where they were working. They did not go home to sleep. Libby, Ruth Scrivener, Jane Smart and others made tea and sandwiches and drove them out to the men.

Fire kept coming from the west and another came from Bowens Creek to Fields Selection toward Zircon Creek. On 29 November it started to rain and helped extinguish the flames.

It was during this fire that the Brigade first put in the rake hoe line which linked the end of the Southern Fire Trail up into Waterfall Creek and across it and up on to the ridge below Boggy Bend. Each time there has been a fire this line has been opened up again. The Boronia Point Fire Trail went in during and after this fire.

This fire was remembered as one for which hung around for days and for which many resources were provided – brigades, police, army, helicopters, bulldozers and canteens. It started at Newnes on 21st December. At Mt Wilson it was remembered at first as being very smoky and still. It made a few runs on the north side burning out beneath 'Kookaburra Kottige','Pine Lodge', Du Fours Rocks and Wynnes Rocks Road. It crossed over' Breenhold' near the Hall and Ron Gunn talked about fire balls over the Village Hall area. It was kept out of the forest near the Zig Zag but it took off over the end of Wynnes Rocks Road (there were no houses there then) and then wound round the south side of Mt Wilson and took off to Mt Tomah arriving 20 minutes later. A home and several sheds were lost there.

At Mt Irvine they watched it night and day from Cecil Kirk's mine. The army sent 60 personnel to build a trail to the Wollangambe. The fire, pushed by 50 knot winds, bounded up out of the Wollangambe to Yurunga 'like an express train'. Helen Naylor remembers driving through flames up Danes Way with food for the fire fighters. It went straight through number 40 Danes Way. Danes Way became impassable and, as they were worried about properties on Mt Irvine Road, they had to drive across country. The smoke was so thick that the firefighters could not see the gates to properties and had to cut their way through fences. The brigades that came to give our brigade a break could not see either the gates or the cuts in the fences and had to cut new ways through. That fire created good work for fencers!

The fire calmed down and brigades were allowed to go home for Xmas. Our brigade stayed on patrol for Xmas Day from 9.00am till 10.30pm.The Xmas meal was Sao biscuits and tea at Cecil Kirk's. Boxing Day brought rain and thick fog.

Brigade members had worked up to 22 hours a day; Paul remembers his brother Geoff and Alan and Ron Gunn having two hours sleep at Irvineholme. The Fire Control Officer at Katoomba noted that the Mt Irvine Studebaker had done more hours than any other truck in the Blue Mountains during the fire period.
It was during this fire that the fire trail, from the 'Field Selection' road down across Zircon Creek and through the main forest below the Mount Irvine Road and coming out at that road just beyond Farrer Road East, was constructed.