Stories of community strength and resilience during the devastating 2015 Esperance bushfires have been shared in the recently launched book Our Bushfire Recovery Story.
Many refer to the bushfires, which were described as the most extreme and the fastest-moving ever recorded in WA, as the Esperance region’s “darkest hour”.
The blaze resulted in the deaths of four people: well-known Scaddan farmer Kym Curnow and backpackers Thomas Leslie Butcher, Anna Sushchova Winther and Julia Kohrs-Lichte.
Last week a book dedicated to sharing the stories, tributes, poems and images collected by people involved and affected by the fires was launched. The book includes a poem about Mr Curnow and a story from Mr Butcher’s mother, as well as the stories of people who lost their homes to the blaze.
Shire of Esperance president Victoria Brown said the book was a way for people to come to terms with the devastation and move forward.
She said it also gave everyone a look at the bigger picture of how the community came together during such a devastating period.
“For something of this enormity to affect our very small community and to have lost four people in the fires was something that none of us were prepared for,” she said.
“During that period of time we were all so intensely busy getting on with our jobs that we didn’t really understand how big the picture was in the whole community as to what was happening.”
In the book, Cr Brown says she was proud to be the Shire president at the time, summing up the community’s response.
We live in a beautiful place, we are an amazing community . . . it was our resilient, caring and supportive community that helped pull us through and back into the light,
Shire project co-ordinator for the book Amelia Fitzgerald thanked those who were brave and shared their stories to put the book together.
It will be gifted to the firefighters, community organisation volunteers and those directly affected by the fires. It will be available as an ebook on the Shire’s website.