This is Hanne, Council’s Injury Management and Wellbeing Co-ordinator. Hanne and her family suffered significant loss in the Sampson Flat fires.
Retelling the story five years on is still difficult, but she wants to share how important it is to stay vigilant about fire preparation – which is an ‘all year round’ undertaking.
The fires blazed over two weeks in the heat of early January 2015. Hanne’s family lost all of their belongings which were packed into boxes from their recent relocation to Kersbrook when the shed went up. Thankfully the old fibro house slated for demolition to make way for their new home was relatively unscathed.
The community immediately rallied and volunteers kept the world turning for Hanne, her family, and for everyone affected by the fire. The local footy club ran barbecues for every meal and gathered donations of basic necessities, pet food and more flooded in. “Everyone pulled together and supported each other… we would have been completely lost without them,” Hanne said.
Dedicated friends came every weekend for two years to help re-build fences and continue to clear the property of fallen wood and debris. Hanne said: “the sound of chainsaws rang out through Kersbrook for months”, as property owners felled burned trees and chopped them up.
Looking at the idyllic green property now, it’s hard to imagine the devastation the fire left behind it. Hanne and her family have just finished building their new home, four years later than anticipated, and are in the middle of tearing down the old fibro house which saw them through the aftermath of the fire.
The new house has been built with every fire-proofing measure in mind, and keeping the property clear of undergrowth, fallen trees and branches is an ongoing labour of love.
Hanne is forever grateful to the people who helped them get back on their feet and who continue to support them during the many years of recovery and rebuild. “We have learned that volunteers, and a community of people supporting each other, are without a shadow of over-statement, life-saving,” Hanne said. Hanne is quick to point out that “fire preparation is absolutely imperative for all of us - expect the best, but prepare for the worst."
Hanne’s story is a timely reminder to clean up our properties to reduce their fire risk. Playford’s Fire Prevention Officer is here to issue clean up orders for properties which are a fire risk, manage Burning Permits, and to monitor burning in the open.
To contact our Fire Prevention Officer, call Dave Watson on 8256 0333.
For invaluable advice on fire prevention and preparation, and creating a bushfire plan, check out the South Australian Country Fire Service tips link.
If you’re interested in making a big difference in your community, you could join our team of dedicated volunteers. Contact our Volunteer Co-ordinator, Roxanne Withers on 8256 0263.