A CASUAL Sunday lunch with his assistant coaches turned into a bushfire evacuation for St Kilda's Alan Richardson.
The new Saints coach and his family had to leave their outer-suburban Park Orchards home in a hurry because of the nearby Warrandyte fire.
They were able to return after a couple of hours.
Richardson admitted there were some anxious moments after they received mobile phone and landline notification from emergency services that they had to evacuate.
"I was actually heading up the driveway going to Danny Sexton's house for a coach barbecue," he said.
"I quickly did a U-turn, went back, got everything that was dear to us and took off.
"Around 12 o'clock we had to pack up the kids and the dog and the cat - we didn't find the cat, actually.
"So it was good the fire didn't come though."
Richardson said while it was only a scare for himself and his family, they felt for others who had suffered from Sunday's fire crisis.
"There are dramas for some people and we're thinking of them, in terms of loss of homes."
The day before, the Saints played an intra-club match in oppressive heat at Seaford ahead of their first NAB Challenge match against the Western Bulldogs on February 19.
Richardson is pleased with how the team is progressing after his late call-up to replace sacked coach Scott Watters.
"The reality is at this stage, new coach, new structures and new style, you're just hoping that as soon as possible, everyone can be on the same page," he said.
"From that point of view, it was pretty impressive."
Richardson said newly reappointed captain Nick Riewoldt and fellow veteran Lenny Hayes were among the players who would sit out the clash with the Bulldogs at Skilled Stadium.
He said the players were showing a strong attitude after the dramas of late last year.
"All I can ask for at this stage is the guys embrace the changes we'll make, that they'll work their backsides off, and they've been really impressive.
"We were slogging it out in minus 24 degrees in Colorado and we didn't back off in terms of the training program."