Black Summer bushfires firefighter laments loss of family after saving 13 people

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A hero firefighter who saved 13 individuals throughout the Black Summer time bushfires continues to be struggling to come back to phrases with dropping his uncle and cousin.

Nathan Barnden, 27, was among the many 1000’s of volunteer firefighters who battled the devastating blazes that burned throughout the nation between October 2019 and March 2020.

Greater than 24 million hectares of land was burned, 3,000 houses destroyed and 33 lives misplaced – together with six Australian firefighters and three US water bomber crew.

Mr Barnden, who’s a Rural Fireplace Service Jellat Brigade senior deputy captain, battled the bushfires raging alongside the NSW south coast on New Yr’s Eve 2019.

Nathan Barnden, 27 (pictured), was among the thousands of firefighters who battled the devastating blazes that burned across the country between October 2019 and March 2020

Nathan Barnden, 27 (pictured), was among the many 1000’s of firefighters who battled the devastating blazes that burned throughout the nation between October 2019 and March 2020

Despite his act of bravery Mr Barnden says he is haunted by the people he was unable to save - namely his uncle Robert Salway and cousin Patrick

Regardless of his act of bravery Mr Barnden says he’s haunted by the individuals he was unable to save lots of – particularly his uncle Robert Salway and cousin Patrick

Mr Barnden, who is a Rural Fire Service Jellat Brigade senior deputy captain, battled the bushfires raging along the New South Wales south-coast on New Year's Eve 2019 (pictured, photo uploaded by the Salway family, capturing the Black Summer bushfires along the New South Wales south-coast)

Mr Barnden, who’s a Rural Fireplace Service Jellat Brigade senior deputy captain, battled the bushfires raging alongside the New South Wales south-coast on New Yr’s Eve 2019 (pictured, picture uploaded by the Salway household, capturing the Black Summer time bushfires alongside the New South Wales south-coast)

He saved 13 individuals and even pulled a grandmother, her daughter, and three grandchildren from their burning Quamma residence, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Regardless of his act of bravery, Mr Barnden mentioned he was haunted by the individuals he was unable to save lots of – his uncle Robert Salway and cousin Patrick. 

‘Think about you have devoted your complete life to saving ­individuals and also you could not save your personal household,’ he mentioned. 

‘Within the early levels I struggled with it… it did not matter that I saved 13 individuals. 

Robert, 63, and Patrick, 29, perished whereas attempting to save lots of the household farm in Wandella, about 20km away from the place Mr Barnden was on the time. 

Solely the day earlier than, Patrick was serving to a good friend defend his property at Bemboka, about 70km south of Wandella.

Firefighters had been closing down the roads main into the fireplace zone, although Patrick was capable of make it residence alongside the Princes Freeway 40 minutes earlier than it was shut down.

Family visit the grave site of Robert and Patrick Salway one year on from the devastating fires

Household go to the grave website of Robert and Patrick Salway one yr on from the devastating fires

Mr Barnden says he couldn't help but think how things might have been different had the highway been closed sooner

Mr Barnden says he could not assist however suppose how issues might need been completely different had the freeway been closed sooner

Photo shows the outcome of the Black Summer bushfire at the Wandella property on the New South Wales south-coast

Photograph reveals the end result of the Black Summer time bushfire on the Wandella property on the New South Wales south-coast

The sky turned an ember red along the New South Wales south-coast during the Black Summer bushfires

The sky turned an ember pink alongside the New South Wales south-coast throughout the Black Summer time bushfires

Mr Barnden says he could not assist however suppose how issues might need been completely different had the freeway been closed sooner.  

‘It’s a vital factor of survivor’s guilt the place I felt I should not have been firefighting and I ought to have been out with my household on their property, serving to them,’ he mentioned.

Ideas of dropping his household and the fires continued to plague Mr Barnden for months earlier than he recognised the indicators of post-traumatic stress dysfunction.

He has seen psychologists and counsellors to study to deal with the ache, and he isn’t alone.

An estimated 3,300 Rural Fireplace Service members have sought skilled assist over the previous yr.

The RFS is searching for psychologists to fill no less than 17 new jobs. 

All that remained of the Wandella property, on the New South Wales south-coast

All that remained of the Wandella property, on the New South Wales south-coast

Robert, 63 (pictured), and Patrick, 29, perished after trying to save the family farm at Wandella, about 20 kilometres away from where Mr Barnden was at the time

Robert, 63 (pictured), and Patrick, 29, perished after attempting to save lots of the household farm at Wandella, about 20 kilometres away from the place Mr Barnden was on the time

Only the day before, Patrick had been helping a friend protect his property at Bemboka, about 70 kilometres south of Wandella

Solely the day earlier than, Patrick had been serving to a good friend defend his property at Bemboka, about 70 kilometres south of Wandella

Mr Barnden mentioned he obtained a heartening textual content message from the household he had helped to save lots of from the Quamma residence. 

‘She mentioned: “We nonetheless get to have at the present time as a household and I’ve six grandchildren and also you saved 5 of them”,’ Mr Barnden recalled.

‘Over time I am grateful for the lives saved. I get to see them have a life and it makes all of it price it.’

It has been precisely one yr since Patrick and Robert Salway perished from the fires, prompting an outpouring of tributes on social media.

‘Life hasn’t been the identical and gained’t ever be the identical once more however what stays is our sturdy household and group to get us by means of!’ one member of the family wrote on Fb.

‘At present is hard however as my stunning grandma instructed me yesterday, At all times bear in mind the nice and these males had been nothing however good and I’m certain everybody has a superb reminiscence and good story to inform about these two.’



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