Priest to lead Lara bushfire commemoration

Priest to lead Lara bushfire commemoration

9 January 2009

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Australia — Geelong priest, Fr Kevin Dillon, who treated some of the victims of the January 1969 Lara bushfires while working as an orderly at Melbourne’s St Vincent’s Hospital, will lead a commemorative service this Sunday for the tragic event.

The Geelong Advertiser reports survivors of the Lara blaze which devastated the small community 40 years ago will gather on Sunday to remember the 18 people killed.

Betty Davey-Walker has spent months planning the commemoration at the new Lara CFA headquarters in Mill Rd, but she doubts the emotions from the past will flare until the weekend’s events.

“It’s starting to hit me a bit now,” she said yesterday, as she organised the final preparations.

“It was my idea to have a picnic, just to see how everyone (affected by the fire) had got on, and when I told the CFA they said they had always thought about doing that.”

Mrs Davey-Walker’s two children were aged just two and three when the fire happened on January 8, 1969. While she has since moved from Lara, she can recall the day like it was just last week.

“For us it was as big as Ash Wednesday; 18 people died and 47 houses and buildings were destroyed, and there were only about 900 people living in Lara, so it was huge,” she said.

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