Eerie scenes haunt returning fire crews
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.