New Brunswick

Australian man in Miramichi warns people not to forget impact of bushfires

An Australian man living in Miramichi has been watching his home country burn from more than 17,000 kilometres away.

'Complacency always sets in after 10, 15, 20 years. People forget about what's happened'

People in Australia are beginning to evacuate as fires sweep across the country. (Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

An Australian man living in Miramichi, who has been watching his home country burn up from more than 17,000 kilometres away, is warning people not to let something like this happen again.

"It's such a beautiful place and it's like, people will rebuild and people will be cautious," said Darren Walker, a South Australian who moved to his wife's hometown of Miramichi six years ago.

"But complacency always sets in after 10, 15, 20 years. People forget about what's happened. It's just human nature." 

More than 200 fires are sweeping over the country, which has launched one of Australia's largest evacuations — and more hot weather and strong winds are expected this weekend.

"When I see the images on the TV, I just look and go, 'I know where that is, I know where that is,'" Walker said.

"It's heartbreaking."

Darren Walker moved to Canada from Australia six years ago and still has family close to where fires are burning. 7:32

Walker said bushfires happen every year in Australia, but this is the worst it has ever been.

"This is is tragic, but considering the conditions, the loss of life hasn't been huge," he said. At least 19 people have been killed as of Friday.

Walker's brother Mark lives in Australia, near Batemans Bay on the south eastern coast. Walker said that area is under ember alert and is susceptible to fires, but his brother is working to protect his home.

A satellite image shows bushfire smoke being blown away from Australia towards New Zealand on January 2, 2020. in this screen grab obtained from a social media video. NOAA via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. (NOAA/Reuters)

"He's prepared. He's been preparing actually for the last few weeks ... it's a lot of work," he said.

Walker's brother has moved outdoor furniture away from the house, removed gas containers from the property, used the garden hose to soak the surrounding grass and he's even filled large garbage bins with water to knock over if the fire gets too close.

"My brother will fight for his house," he said. 

"But you know, when push comes to shove, it's like 'Forget the house. Let's get out of here'."

With files from Information Morning Moncton

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.