Eerie scenes haunt re­turn­ing fire crews

Pilbara News - - News - ■ Tom Zaun­mayr

Pil­bara fire­fight­ers have re­turned home from what they have de­scribed as “eerie” scenes down south, where the Har­veyWa­roona fires hit close to home for one of their own.

Fifty vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers and Depart­ment of Fire and Emer­gency Ser­vices staff from al­most ev­ery sta­tion in the Pil­bara put their hands up to help out.

Tom Price vol­un­teer fire­fighter David Dar­ling’s ex-wife and two chil­dren lost al­most ev­ery­thing as the blaze raised their home town of Yar­loop.

“Be­ing so far away and not be­ing able to help has been hard. I wish I could have been down there fight­ing it,” he said.

“Rio Tinto was good though in giv­ing me time off at the drop of a hat to be with my fam­ily. The kids are up and down a lit­tle bit, they’ve gone from hav­ing a town full of friends to hav­ing only a few houses left.”

Mr Dar­ling said a GoFundMe fundraiser set up for his fam­ily had raised more than $12,000 and given them a bit of light at the end of the tun­nel as they start over at a new rental prop­erty in Brunswick.

DFES Pil­bara su­per­in­ten­dent John New­man said the ma­jor­ity of work for the vol­un­teers in­volved strength­en­ing con­tain­ment lines.

“Cer­tainly the first de­ploy­ment who did some work in Yar­loop de­scribed it as be­ing very eerie and quite emo­tional see­ing peo­ple who have lost ev­ery­thing,” he said. “We had no trou­ble get­ting the num­bers, and thank­fully by and large their em­ploy­ees al­lowed them time off.

“You can’t over­es­ti­mate the value of the con­tri­bu­tion th­ese men and women make.”

As usual, the wider Pil­bara com­mu­nity has dug deep to help out where pos­si­ble.

Kar­ratha do­nated 25 pal­lets of cloth­ing and goods at the shop­ping cen­tre, the New­man Lions Club filled a small truck and Tom Price and Parabur­doo res­i­dents col­lected goods to send down on an IGA truck.

Tom Price res­i­dent Chelsie Rob­son said she had to help out af­ter see­ing peo­ple she knew go­ing through a hor­ri­ble time.

Mrs Rob­son said she was over­whelmed by the re­sponse.

Ex­mouth Pets and Vets do­nated nearly $1400 left over from a pre­vi­ous fundraiser plus an­other $500 from its own fundrais­ing ef­forts.

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