An intense bushfire came within metres of homes north of Geraldton, which were saved from an blackened fate thanks to the tireless efforts of fire crews on the ground and in the sky. Burnt letter boxes, smouldering fences, an incinerated trampoline and charred land just metres from doorsteps show just how close the blaze came to wreaking even more havoc in farming communities in the shires of Chapman Valley and Northampton. The blaze, which started on Sunday morning affecting the communities of Howatharra, Oakajee, White Peak and Bowes, was at an emergency level for more than 24 hours before being downgraded to watch and act just after 3.30pm on Monday. Inside the fire zone on Monday afternoon, resident Dean Williams recalled the terror as the fire rolled closer and closer. He was on his verandah watching the fire from afar when it began moving quick towards his home, where he lives with his wife, children and their pets — they evacuated at 11.30am, three hours before the fire was declared an emergency. “We nearly lost everything. We nearly lost our home — it’s hard to put into words how it feels. I’m shaken up,” he said. Mr Williams’ home on North West Coastal Highway was doused in half a tank of fire retardant by a fixed wing bomber plane. At 3.30pm, Mr Williams received a call from a volunteer firefighter he knew, to tell him his home had survived the blaze — a sense of relief Mr Williams is unable to describe. “If it wasn’t for the firefighters we could’ve lost our lives, we would’ve lost our livelihoods. They saved our everything,” he said. A house on Coronation Beach Road was surrounded by flames on Sunday afternoon with career firefighers defending it from the blaze. Tyre tracks from the fire truck are imprinted on what was formerly the front lawn, as a trampoline lays incinerated and the logs holding their fence in place still smoulder. There has been no reported infrastructure damage, but piping across farming land has been melted and about 40 sheep perished during the blaze, which has impacted about 14 properties. Shire of Chapman Valley president Kirrilee Warr said the loss was heartbreaking. “I’m feeling for my fellow farmers in this community that have those losses, it’s now looking towards what we can do to help them recover and repair. The welfare of people and animals is our first priority,” she said. Ms Warr said the outcome of the fire was amazing and a testament to the hard work of the firefighters who helped limit major property damage. Western Power is currently on site restoring about 19 fire poles which were damaged. A cause for the fire which burnt through more than 1000 hectares has not yet been determined, but DFES Mid West Gascoyne superintendent Mark Bowen said there were no indicators of suspicious activity. DFES Incident officer Ian Comben said weather conditions on Monday worked in favour of firefighters as wind dropped off, giving them time to contain the blaze. “The fire is currently contained but not controlled, we have no running fire but with any ember that could change in an instant,” Mr Comben said. He added the northern line would be tested as Monday night’s southerly came in. “If that holds into the evening, I’ll be extremely pleased, then we’ll look at downgrading this to a level one incident then hopefully, by mid-afternoon tomorrow, we’ll hand this back to the local government,” he said.