A mother "braced herself" to lose her parents and five children after a blaze engulfed their Tasmania home, but the family were saved by jumping into the sea and clinging to a wooden jetty.

These dramatic pictures show the Walker family, as flames encircle them, hugging tightly to wooden beams of the jetty, near their home in Dunalley, Tasmania.

Grandmother Tammy Holmes held her terrified grandchildren, two-year-old Charlotte and four-year-old Esther, while nine-year-old Liam clung to the jetty with sister Matilda, 11, who is holding up her six-year-old brother Caleb.

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The family credits God with their survival from the fire that destroyed around 90 homes in Dunalley


Bonnie Walker, mother of the five, told Australia's ABC channel that she realised after hearing the news on the radio that her children and parents were trapped by the flames.

"I braced myself to lose my children and my parents," she said. "'We just waited by the phone and received a message at 3.30pm to say that mum and dad had evacuated, that they were surrounded by fire, and could we pray?"

Tim Holmes, Ms Walker's father, told the network: "There was a moment of fear that this could be very, very dangerous. But I managed to run through and get to the water's edge, which was a kind of a sanctuary.

"We saw tornadoes of fire just coming across towards us.

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Tammy Holmes and her grandchildren take refuge under a jetty


"We were relying on the jetty really. And the difficulty was, there was so much smoke and ember and there was only about probably two to three hundred millimetres of air above the water.

"So we were all just heads, water up to our chins, just trying to breathe because it was just, the atmosphere was so incredibly toxic.

The family managed to escape after Mr Holmes found a dinghy, which he dragged for more than 200 metres to find clearer air.

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The Walker siblings prepare to enter the water to take refuge with their grandparents


Father David Walker, who was hiking in a remote area, unaware of the unfolding drama, told ABC: "All the things that we've lost, yeah, there's some precious memories there. But they can be replaced, material things, but my wife and children, not so easily replaced. Yeah, I just feel blessed that my family's all together."

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that more than 130 bushfires are still burning, as fire crews desperately attempt to cool the flames before windy weather returns to New South Wales.

"It certainly has the potential to cause quite significant devastation if it were to continue along its current path," RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said.

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A charred vehicle sits near the remains of a home destroyed by a wildfire between Dunalley and Boomer Bay


On Tuesday, Australia experienced its hottest day on record, with temperatures about 40C.

New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said in a statement: "You don't get conditions worse than this. We are at the catastrophic level."

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  • In this Jan. 4, 2013, photo provided by the Holmes family, the Walker siblings six-year-old Caleb, left, four-year-old Esther, second from left, nine-year-old Liam, and eleven-year-old Matilda, right, holding two-year-old Charlotte, prepare to enter the water to take refuge with their grandparents under a jetty as a wildfire rages nearby in the Tasmanian town of Dunalley, east of the state capital of Hobart, Australia. The family credits God with their survival from the fire that destroyed around 90 homes in Dunalley. Record temperatures across southern Australia cooled Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, reducing the danger from scores of raging wildfires but likely bringing only a brief reprieve from the summer’s extreme heat and fire risk. (AP Photo/The Holms Family, Tim Holmes) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

  • In this Jan. 4, 2013, photo provided by the Holmes family, Tammy Holmes and her grandchildren take refuge under a jetty as a wildfire rages nearby in the Tasmanian town of Dunalley, east of the state capital of Hobart, Australia. The family credits God with their survival from the fire that destroyed around 90 homes in Dunalley. Record temperatures across southern Australia cooled Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, reducing the danger from scores of raging wildfires but likely bringing only a brief reprieve from the summer’s extreme heat and fire risk. (AP Photo/Holmes Family, Tim Holmes) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

  • In this Jan. 4, 2013, photo provided by the Holmes family the Walker siblings six-year-old Caleb, left, four-year-old Esther, second from left, eleven-year-old Matilda, holding two-year-old Charlotte, second from right, and nine-year-old Liam, right, prepare to enter the water to take refuge with their grandparents under a jetty as a wildfire rages nearby in the Tasmanian town of Dunalley, east of the state capital of Hobart, Australia. The family credits God with their survival from the fire that destroyed around 90 homes in Dunalley. Record temperatures across southern Australia cooled Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, reducing the danger from scores of raging wildfires but likely bringing only a brief reprieve from the summer’s extreme heat and fire risk. (AP Photo/Holmes Family, Tim Holmes) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

  • In this Jan. 4, 2013, photo provided by the Holmes family, Tammy Holmes, second from left, and her grandchildren, two-year-old Charlotte Walker, left, four-year-old Esther Walker, third from left, nine-year-old Liam Walker, eleven-year-old Matilda, second from right, and six-year-old Caleb Walker, right, take refuge under a jetty as a wildfire rages near-by in the Tasmanian town of Dunalley, east of the state capital of Hobart, Australia. The family credits God with their survival from the fire that destroyed around 90 homes in Dunalley. Record temperatures across southern Australia cooled Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, reducing the danger from scores of raging wildfires but likely bringing only a brief reprieve from the summer’s extreme heat and fire risk. (AP Photo/Holmes Family, Tim Holmes) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

  • In this photo provided by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, plumes of smoke rise from a fire near Cooma, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Temperatures across much of New South Wales state are expected to reach 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) causing extreme conditions. (AP Photo/New South Wales Rural Fire Service) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

  • NSW Declared Total Fire Ban

    NIMMITABEL, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 08: Smoke rises from a wildfire on January 8, 2013 in Nimmitabel,New South Wales, Australia. NSW was declared a total fire ban with the Illawarra, Shoalhaven and Southern Ranges regions placed on 'Catastrophic' alert. (Photo by Pamela Martin/Getty Images)

  • Wildfire smoke rises from hills behind the village of Numeralla in New South Wales state on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Wildfires raged across much of southeast Australia. (AP Photo/Rod McGuirk)

  • AUSTRALIA-WEATHER-FIRE

    This picture taken from Lake Conjola shows bathers looking on as smoke billows from a bushfire (back) at Deans Gap in New South Wales on January 8, 2013. Bushfires raged out of control across Australia's most populous state on January 8, fanned by intense heat and high winds in 'catastrophic' conditions that threatened homes and triggered evacuations. AFP PHOTO / Rebecca Knowles (Photo credit should read Rebecca Knowles/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Wildfire smoke rises from hills near the village of Numeralla in New South Wales state on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Wildfires raged across much of southeast Australia. (AP Photo/Rod McGuirk)

  • In this photo provided by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service a wildfire near Deans Gap, Australia, crosses the Princes Highway Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Firefighters are battling scores of wildfires in southeastern Australia as authorities evacuate national parks and warned that hot, dry and windy conditions were combining to raise the threat to its highest alert level. (AP Photo/NSW Rural Fire Service, James Morris)

  • Wildfire smoke rises from hills behind the village of Numeralla in New South Wales state on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Wildfires raged across much of southeast Australia. (AP Photo/Rod McGuirk)

  • In this photo provided by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, plumes of smoke rise from a fire near Deniliquin, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Firefighters are battling scores of wildfires raging across southeast Australia as authorities evacuated national parks and warned that blistering temperatures and high winds had led to "catastrophic" conditions in some areas. (AP Photo/New South Wales Rural Fire Service) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

  • aerial

    In this aerial photo provided by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, plumes of smoke rises from a fire near Sussex Inlet, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013. Temperatures cooled from record highs across much of southern Australia on Wednesday, reducing the danger from scores of wildfires that have blazed for days. (AP Photo/NSW Rural Fire Service) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

  • In this Jan. 4, 2013, photo provided by the Holmes family, a building burns near a jetty where Tim and Tammy Holmes attempt to shelter their five grandchildren as a wildfire rages nearby in the Tasmanian town of Dunalley, east of the state capital of Hobart, Australia. The family credits God with their survival from the fire that destroyed around 90 homes in Dunalley. Record temperatures across southern Australia cooled Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, reducing the danger from scores of raging wildfires but likely bringing only a brief reprieve from the summer’s extreme heat and fire risk. (AP Photo/Holmes Family, Tim Holmes) EDITORIAL USE ONLY

  • This aerial photo shows a view of Dunalley after a wildfire destroyed around 80 buildings in and around the small town, east of the Tasmanian capital of Hobart, Australia, on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. Australian officials battled a series of wildfires amid scorching temperatures across the country on Saturday, with one blaze destroying dozens of homes in the island state of Tasmania. (AP Photo/Chris Kidd, Pool)

  • This aerial photo shows a view of Dunalley after a wildfire destroyed around 80 buildings in and around the small town, east of the Tasmanian capital of Hobart, Australia, on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. Australian officials battled a series of wildfires amid scorching temperatures across the country on Saturday, with one blaze destroying dozens of homes in the island state of Tasmania. (AP Photo/Chris Kidd, Pool)

  • A charred vehicle sits near the remains of a home destroyed by a wildfire between Dunalley and Boomer Bay, east of the Tasmanian capital of Hobart, Australia, on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. Australian officials battled a series of wildfires amid scorching temperatures across the country on Saturday, with one blaze destroying dozens of homes in the island state of Tasmania. (AP Photo/Chris Kidd, Pool)

  • This aerial photo shows a view of Dunalley after a wildfire destroyed around 80 buildings in and around the small town, east of the Tasmanian capital of Hobart, Australia, on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. Australian officials battled a series of wildfires amid scorching temperatures across the country on Saturday, with one blaze destroying dozens of homes in the island state of Tasmania. (AP Photo/Chris Kidd, Pool)

  • This aerial photo shows a view of Boomer Bay after wildfires raged across southern Australia, on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. Australian officials battled a series of wildfires amid scorching temperatures across the country on Saturday, with one blaze destroying dozens of homes in the island state of Tasmania. (AP Photo/Chris Kidd, Pool)

  • This aerial photo shows homes destroyed by a wildfire between Dunalley and Boomer Bay, east of the Tasmanian capital of Hobart, Australia, on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. Australian officials battled a series of wildfires amid scorching temperatures across the country on Saturday, with one blaze destroying dozens of homes in the island state of Tasmania. (AP Photo/Chris Kidd, Pool)

  • This aerial photo shows homes destroyed by a wildfire near Boomer Bay, in southern Australia, on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. Australian officials battled a series of wildfires amid scorching temperatures across the country on Saturday, with one blaze destroying dozens of homes in the island state of Tasmania. (AP Photo/Chris Kidd, Pool)

  • This aerial photo shows a view of Dunalley after a wildfire destroyed around 80 buildings in and around the small town, east of the Tasmanian capital of Hobart, Australia, on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. Australian officials battled a series of wildfires amid scorching temperatures across the country on Saturday, with one blaze destroying dozens of homes in the island state of Tasmania. (AP Photo/Chris Kidd, Pool)

  • This aerial photo shows homes destroyed by a wildfire between Dunalley and Boomer Bay, east of the Tasmanian capital of Hobart, Australia, on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. Australian officials battled a series of wildfires amid scorching temperatures across the country on Saturday, with one blaze destroying dozens of homes in the island state of Tasmania. (AP Photo/Chris Kidd, Pool)

  • A building sits among the charred remains of properties following a wildfire near Dunalley, east of the Tasmanian capital of Hobart, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. Australian officials battled a series of wildfires amid scorching temperatures across the country on Saturday, with one blaze destroying dozens of homes in the island state of Tasmania. (AP Photo/Chris Kidd, Pool)

  • A charred vehicle sits near the remains of a destroyed home following a wildfire near Dunalley, east of the Tasmanian capital of Hobart, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. Australian officials battled a series of wildfires amid scorching temperatures across the country on Saturday, with one blaze destroying dozens of homes in the island state of Tasmania. (AP Photo/Chris Kidd, Pool)

  • AUSTRALIA-WEATHER-FIRE

    This aerial photograph taken on January 5, 2013 shows the devastation to property between Dunalley and Boomer Bay after bush fires swept through the area. Thousands of people have fled wildfires raging on the Australian island of Tasmania that have destroyed at least 80 properties amid fears that at least one man died in the blaze, police said. AFP PHOTO / POOL / Chris Kidd (Photo credit should read Chris Kidd/AFP/Getty Images)