Fire Victims Tell

Australian fire victims tell of miracle survival 2:05PM Monday Feb 09, 2009

Photo / CHANNEL 9 via APTN


Stories of survival are now filtering through the media after entire towns were burnt off the map of Australia by raging bushfires.

Mandy Darkin told the Associated Press that she was working at a restaurant "like nothing was going on" until they were suddenly told to go home.

"I looked outside the window and said: 'Whoa, we are out of here, this is going to be bad,'" Ms Darkin said.

"I could see it coming. I just remember the blackness and you could hear it, it sounded like a train."

Only five houses were left standing out of about 40 in one neighbourhood that an Associated Press news crew flew over. Street after street was lined by smouldering wrecks of homes, roofs collapsed inward, iron roof sheets twisted from the heat. The burned-out hulks of cars dotted roads.

The Melbourne Herald Sun is putting out a special 'bushfire' edition this afternoon.

The paper reports that 62 year-old Pauline Keene escaped with only $4 in her pocket as the fire approached her Long Gully home.

Her daughter Sharon said Ms Keene was about to buy milk when the inferno hit.

"She could smell smoke... so she went outside, and that's when the cops grabbed her and said, 'Run'. She got out with just the $4 she was going to spend to buy milk," Sharon told the paper.

Survivor Karen Plant wept as she stood with her husband Brad and son Kyle in the scorched ruins of their home.

"I chucked my wedding band on and, apart from that and a wedding album, we have lost every single thing," she told the paper.

The small township of Victorian Marysville has been so badly burnt that only one or two buildings remain standing.

The Australian newspaper reports the manager of the local resort, Stephen Collins, saying up to 11 people from the town could be dead.

"I asked one friend about her dad and she just looked blankly at me and said: He's gone," Mr Collins said.

The paper also tells the story of Sonja Parkinson who tried to escape the flames in a car with her husband's infant son but was blocked.

The family returned to their house with another family only to see the front two rooms catch fire.

Christine Halls, who was with Ms Parkinson, said: "It was just terrifying. They say a bushfire sounds like a freight train coming, but it sounded like a freight train as big as the entire space you could see, the entire horizon. It was that much noise and force. The sound was incredible".

In the dark and the smoke, Ms Hall and her family ran to a shallow summer creek where they sheltered under blankets.

"And this little one was so brave, under the blanket. We had a blanket over us in the creek and we huddled with the dog and two neighbours and two lyrebirds."

When the family emerged from the creek, their neighbourhood had been transformed. Of the 20 odd houses in the street, only three or four were still standing.




auroraaustralis auroraaustralis
6 Responses Feb 9, 2009

Good on you for volunteering - what a fantastic way to lend your support.<br />
That poor little girl :(

I truly hope Prime Minister Rudd stays with his word and throws away the KEY if they get the Arsonist!<br />
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The South Australian Police makes regular contact with Known offenders of Arson!...Our fire tally has been cut in half!<br />
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With the temp increasing by the weekend, ! AM WORRIED!!

That arsonists may be resposnbile for this makes me sick. I suppose the chances of catching them are very slight.

Like Rudd said hearing that some of the fires were deliberatly lit - what can you say about a person like that? What can you say?

Hats off to you, Robyn. Hell indeed.<br />
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There isn't really much to say... "it's so sad" just doesn't cut it.

Thanks for sharing Robyn. Firemen have to be the bravest people around I reckon. Thank goodness for people like you.