Overseas workers died trying to save horse from Esperance fires

Overseas workers died trying to save horse from Esperance fires 

18 November 2015

published by https://au.news.yahoo.com

Australia– Three overseas workers were trying to save a horse as well as themselves when they fell victim to the Esperance fires.

Linda Campbell paid tribute to three victims who her on her farm and described the tragic circumstances surrounding their deaths.

Mrs Campbell also revealed fellow Scaddan farmer and fire hero Kym Curnow visited her property to raise the alarm as the fire closed in.

Mr Curnow, who lost his life trying to save others, also spoke to her by two-way radio.

The three victims from the Campbell farm were Julia, a 19-year-old woman from Germany, Norwegian woman Anna and 31-year-old Briton Tom who worked as a mechanic.

Their bodies were found in a burned out vehicle that was towing a float when it rolled over.

Julia was employed under a German farm apprenticeship scheme and only arrived at the farm last month.

Anna had been living in WA for the past four years and studying at Curtin University.

“She had a masters in human rights and I think she was 29 years old,” Mrs Campbell said.

“She was our cook and working her 88 days for her second-year visa. She was a very intelligent, lovely girl and I enjoyed our conversations greatly.”

Tom, the mechanic, was trying to gain permanent residency and he had worked for Mrs Campbell and her husband David since last November.

“He was fighting the fires with my husband when Dave made the call that our house was in direct danger and he had to get back,” she said.

“He (the mechanic) then made the decision that he would take the horse and go.

“The two girls were set up to stay in the accommodation with a pool between them and the front but took up his offer to go.

“If they had turned right at the gate and not left they wouldn’t have died.”

Mrs Campbell said they only got a few kilometres from the house before being overwhelmed.

“They had become part of the team and all the staff are taking this very hard,” she said.

The Campbells saved their house through “the fantastic work of the guys working here”.

“I cant thank them enough,” Mrs Campbell said.

” We lost the shearing shed, geese, cat, guinea fowl, vegie garden, fruit trees and bits of gear that we haven’t counted yet.”

The Campbells were also among the farmers who lost nearly all of their wheat crop.

Mr Curnow’s body was found in a burned out vehicle on the same road just a few kilometres away.

Mrs Campbell said Mr Curnow contacted her by radio to warn the fire was 10km away and to ask if she had prepared.

“He also called in with his son and spoke to my son prior to the front hitting,” she said.

“I have been here 30 years and have never seen anything like this.”

Tonight, fears are held for another two people who remain unaccounted for.

The tight-knit farming communities around Esperance are in shock over Mr Curnow’s loss.

He was a leading figure in the district where he touched the lives of many.

Former teammates at the Gibson Football Club, where Mr Curnow was a life member, led the tributes.

They described him as a legend and said he was universally loved throughout the community.

“The club was built around him and played around him for more than 20 years,” one said.

“We don’t want to talk about it because we don’t want to believe it is true.”

Mr Curnow was part of a long-standing family at Scaddan and had two brothers farming nearby.

His body was found by farming neighbours who were also involved in the desperate battle to save lives and property.

The other three people killed were working on farms in the area.

Late today 200 firefighters were working to build containment lines, which authorities aimed to have in place by 6pm tomorrow.

The fire raging near Cascade remains the greatest concern, DFES incident controller Craig Waters said.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Wayne Gregson Gregson said the Esperance fire conditions were “catastrophic and unstoppable”.

At a community meeting in Esperance this morning, Shire President Victoria Brown said the conditions created “the day from hell” and the town was shellshocked.

More bad weather is expected on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Gibson Hotel owner Dianne Waddington said that in more than two decades years in the area, the fire situation was the worst she had ever seen.

“The smoke yesterday was absolutely horrific and the wind factor, I can’t say I’ve ever seen the wind as bad as it was yesterday, between the smoke and the dust it was just horrific,” she said.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien