NI-born firefighter praises colleagues as fires sweep Australia

Roger Park (left) pictured with colleagues on Christmas Eve.
Roger Park (left) pictured with colleagues on Christmas Eve.

A volunteer firefighter originally from Ballyclare, now living in Australia, has detailed the devastating impact of the wild fires across his district.

Roger Park, who has lived in Australia since 1998, defended his own home in the town land of Yowrie from the flames last week.

Mr Park, who works as a zoologist at National Parks, has been in the Rural Fire Service since 2009.

Speaking to the Times following last Tuesday's ordeal, the former Ballyclare High School student said: "I had been concerned about the fires further north and the weather conditions in the lead up to this.

"There’s been massive damage in our area. Possibly over 100 houses lost and damage to farms. Hundreds of cattle have been lost or have had to be shot due to injures. There have also been lives lost in our area, but I can’t clarify those numbers.

"I’m safe and so is my family. The bush fire season has months to go so, it isn’t over yet. I believe the RFS as a service has done an exceptional job, but has been stretched to the limit and beyond. We are volunteer firefighters and our bridge has four units to protect thousands of homes and one of the largest brigade areas on the far south coast."