Volunteer reflects on tragic Yarloop bushfire five years on

Ailish DelaneySouth Western Times
Scenes of devastation in Yarloop after a catastrophic bushfire claimed much of the town five years ago.
Camera IconScenes of devastation in Yarloop after a catastrophic bushfire claimed much of the town five years ago. Credit: Nic Ellis/The West Australian

Five years on from the fire that tore through the Yarloop community in a matter of minutes, a firefighter from the frontline has shared her emotional reflection.

Terri Hynes, who has been a volunteer firefighter for 12 years across WA and the NT, and now serves as the Waterloo Bush Fire Brigade’s first lieutenant and treasurer, said she still felt the wave of mixed emotions of grief, loss, devastation, courage and strength all these years later.

“It’s part of my healing to share my story,” she said.

“Five years still does bring up memories, and not just for myself but for the township.”

Ms Hynes said she hoped to bring awareness to the mental health challenges that could arise from such tragedies.

The depression hits towns but also the firefighters too.

“For the couple of weeks after that, it was one fire after the other and you had to have that self-confidence to keep pushing through, so you pushed all the emotions to the back of your mind, and then when everything calms down, that’s when you sit down and think about what actually happened and process what we went through.

“What we do — we can’t do it without our support system.

“We do it for our community.

We’re all community-spirited people and we just want to help people who need the help.

“DFES support all of us if we do have any challenges we’re trying to overcome, and we’ve got the support of our own brigades and friends and families.”

Waterloo Bushfire Brigade first lieutenant Terri Hynes shares her experiences from the Yarloop fire.
Camera IconWaterloo Bushfire Brigade first lieutenant Terri Hynes shares her experiences from the Yarloop fire.

In a moving social media post, Ms Hynes wrote: “The call to drop hoses and flee for our safety was one we didn’t make lightly...

“Our hearts were heavy and the mood was solemn as we made it to safety with a few other crews and appliances...

“Our community spirit shone bright that day and the weeks following.

“We all came together for a common purpose to help those in need and to rebuild from the ashes to create a stronger and more resilient community.”

Ms Hynes told the Times it had been amazing to see the Yarloop community rebuild everything they had lost.

“They’ve done a fantastic job in their resilience,” she said.

There is a bit of light from the darkness.

“Friendships grew a lot stronger and there’s a lot of family ties that I now have with Yarloop as well.”

Ms Hynes said people in the township who lost their homes and belongings in the fire have become close friends and part of the family.

“Out of tragedy bloomed some great friendships,” she said.

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