Victim of the Bridgetown Bush Fire
January 2009

Thursday - 15th January 2009 - was forecast to be our hottest day
of the summer so far in the South West of Western Australia, and in our capital city Perth.
As is becoming the norm, the night before, the arsonists were already planning their deadly deed.
And true to everyone's fears, early in the morning, they lit their thrill seeking fires.
Fires that have had devastating affects on beautiful King's Park in the heart of our capital,
Yanchep National Park, north of the city of Perth,
AND the forests, bush and farmland near Bridgetown, which neighbours us.

The Bridgetown fire raged for days destroying 6,000 hectares of forest, bush and farm land
resulting in the loss of 5 dwellings, 4 sheds, 4 vehicles, 2 machines, fences and 43km of power lines.

Fire crews, bush fire brigades, fixed wing aircraft and helicopter water bombers
fought day and night until the fire was finally contained late on the 18th January.

That morning we received our first casualty,
a young female kangaroo joey who lost her mum as they fled the flames and smoke.
She had burnt the pads on her feet, but not too severely,
so we treated her with burn's dressings and she is being cared for by carers associated with us.

Just after lunchtime we were called out to Bridgetown
to deal with 'a young roo in urgent need of medical care and help'.
What we encountered even had hardened fire fighters concerned.

The little guy was suffering extreme shock, severe burns to the tips of both ears
and was severely dehydrated. He needed urgent treatment to even survive the journey to Roo Gully.

Joey Helped
Joey Laura
He was sedated so we could administer the fluids he so desperately needed.
And we also smothered his ears with anti bacterial ointment that contains a local anaesthetic
in the hope we could ease the pain he must have been enduring.
The tips of his ears felt like cardboard and he had huge blisters inside one ear.
Ears treated
Soon he was in the car and on his way to Roo Gully,
but our biggest fear was that his lungs were seriously compromised
due to smoke inhalation and worse still a burnt respiratory tract.
Sadly that turned out to be the case.
The little guy was doing well at first. We even had him standing and drinking water.
He even hungrily drank 2 bottles of milk and then later that night he suddenly suffered severe respiratory distress.
The fight to save him was over and he peacefully passed away at 10.55pm.

There are no words to fully express how we all felt.
We sat looking at the body of beautiful animal whose whole life was before him,
and there he was dead because of some mindless idiot who thought it was 'good' to set fire to bushland
on a day when the temperature was due to hit above 40C!

We also realise this next statement sounds very wrong,
but this little guy was one of the lucky ones because we were able to relieve his suffering
and he passed away peacefully with people who really cared.
We have no idea how many suffered a terrible, and very prolonged death, but it will be many,
and many more could still be suffering.

The fire crews genuinely cared about this little guy so when the fire officer rang
to ask how the little guy was going it was terrible telling him he didn't make it.
They may be 'hardened', but we truly believe if this little roo had survived
it would have boosted the morale of the fire crews too after dealing with such a traumatic fire.

Our thanks go to the fire crews who rescued him,
to the bush fireman who wrapped him in his overalls and comforted him until we arrived,
and thanks also go to Dan, Laura and Belinda - our students - who also did everything possible for him.
Thanks also to Tine who had to deal with the phone call from the Fire Officer.
Not the easiest of jobs and equally distressing for her.

Fire crews continued to mop up and patrol around the 43 kilometres of
containment lines around the Bridgetown fire to minimise the risk of further break outs.
AND then the next day sadly had to fight another bush fire close to where this devastation happened.
Another fire that is under investigation.

We sincerely doubt any of our readers are arsonists
but PLEASE if you know anyone who you know likes lighting fires please direct them to this page.
Because if we stop just one person starting a devastating bush fire
then this little guy may not have died in vain.
His story has the potential to save the lives of thousands/millions of creatures
who truly are the innocent victims of such crimes.

When it is deemed safe to enter the area we are going to dart with our tranquiliser gun
and relocate roos trapped on burnt ground to areas of natural feed and water.
In the meantime those we know about are close to a dam for water
and the landowners are feeding them hay.


On behalf of all the wildlife affected by bush fires we thank you for caring

Victim of the Bridgetown Bush Fire © Roo Gully 2009
Photos courtesy of Dan Andrew, Laura Warren.