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Superintendent Writes

Sunday, 23rd January, 2005

We were all shocked with the fire-storm in South Australia that ravaged the houses and people just out of Port Lincoln. My friends, the minister of the Uniting Church there, Rob and Judy Tann, writes:

“The regional picture is this — nine people dead, including four small children. At least eighty homes destroyed and countless farms damaged — sheds equipment etc. Probably 30,000 sheep and cattle killed or humanely destroyed afterwards. 100 vehicles destroyed, countless families and individuals traumatised. Over 100,000 hectares — about a quarter million acres — burnt. I heard this morning was that a fire truck was doing 120kph along one road and the fire over-took it. Wind gusts behind the blaze were up to 140kph and 40+ degrees summer heat meant it was not a scrub fire but a fire storm. Much of the countryside now looks like Hiroshima after the A-bomb. The nearby caravan park was hit where many permanent residents were located — not mobile vans. It exploded in fire in seconds destroying all but one van — it belonged to a retired couple from our church. She was in town, he ran 50 metres to the sea and leapt to safety with the blaze scorching his back as he ran. Vans and cars didn’t just burn, they just melted into blobs on the ground. People walking on nearby farm ground hours after the fire could not stand the heat still in the ground.

The parish situation is this. A core family has lost two small children and their grandmother — trapped in their car and incinerated between two houses on their farm property — one destroyed, one left untouched. Her husband has survived but with shocking burns. They were heading for the one that did not burn but failed to reach it — only about 400 metres away. The other grandfather (Age 57) died from cancer last November — the family were still in grief from that and have now lost two homes, two children a grandmother and a injured grandfather. We have eight families who have lost their homes. About the same number have lost farm equipment, stock, sheds, etc. Our two rural churches — Wanbill and Poonindie — survived with flames touching the walls. The whole community is in a mixture of mourning and relief. Stories of survival are amazing, but tempered by the staggering losses. Please keep praying — the pastoral, social, emotional, and psychological work is just beginning…” Rob Tann.

I know I have asked you to help in the tsunami and you have responded generously. But I also know you will want to help these brothers and sisters in our fellow Uniting Church who have lost their all in these bushfires. I am asking every congregation to leave an extra offering as you leave your service today and next week. Donations with name and address attached are tax-deductable. Just mark them “Bushfire relief.” I will be sending support on behalf of Wesley Mission but your support will be most appreciated.


This is Gordon Moyes.

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