Not so much strange - bushfires are a common summer event in Australia. Definitely scary and dramatic.
Ten years ago, there was a huge fire on the borders of my city's territory (i live in Canberra, the capital city of Australia). We'd had smoke haze hovering of the city for several days. However, Authorities assured us the fire was within containment lines. We live in the suburbs, not out in the country and have good firefighting resources so I wasn't too worried.
My mother phoned on Saturday to say she was worried about the fire. I checked the radio and tv for any news - nothing. Looked outside - still hazy but no different. Mum's an anxious sort of person so I figured she might be overreacting. Went over to her place anyway (she only lived 5 minutes away).
By the time I got there, the smoke seemed much thicker and the sky darker. And it was scorchingly hot.
It quickly became clear that homes in her suburb were under threat. Mum is elderly and asthmatic so staying home to fight the fire wasn't an option.
Packed up photo albums, clothes and a few other essentials in her car. Crated up the cat and put her in my car (which had air conditioning).
As we go to leave, mum became so panicked, she said she can't drive the car. However, she won't leave her car behind, even if I repack the stuff in my car. Fortunately a really kind neighbour offers to drive behind us in mum's car (Hugely kind - she was leaving a 17yo nephew in charge of hosing down her place and making preparations).
By this time embers and smouldering branches were dropping down around us. The sky was storm dark and the light was an eerie red colour. Each breath of air was dry, hot and smoky.
We got to my place ok and settled mum inside. When I drove the neighbour back, I could see houses on the hill above my mum's place burning. A steady stream of traffic was coming from the opposite direction, as people evacuated.
My mum and I were really lucky (as was the kind neighbour): our homes were ok, although it was several hours before we knew. The worst we had to deal with was the power being off for several days and some clean up.
Others weren't so fortunate: several lives were lost, hundreds injured and around 500 homes destroyed. I am so grateful to all the emergency service personnel and volunteers who stopped it from being even worse.
Here is some video taken by a reporter on the day. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qPpOXH0ADSg&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DqPpOXH0ADSg
ETA. Warning some bad language in the video (when the firefighters get rescued).