A photograph taken of a farmer overwhelmed by drought, sleep deprivation, and a fire burning through his family’s property. Picture: Leesa Philips
A photograph taken of a farmer overwhelmed by drought, sleep deprivation, and a fire burning through his family’s property. Picture: Leesa Philips

The moment a farmer became overwhelmed by fire and drought

A GREGORY River woman captured the emotional moment a farmer became overwhelmed by a bushfire burning through his family's property.

Leesa Philips said she was taking a photograph of the smoke on her family's drought affected properties on Philips and Erskine Rds two weeks ago, when she realised her uncle sitting by the dam was crying.

"We were in a hurry to get more water and he hadn't slept for about 30 hours," she said.

"That dam was already low from the drought and we were pumping it for the water.

"The heat was intense and he was exhausted.

"He sat down, took his hat off, put his head in his hands and cried.

"He was giving up the fight for life in general at that point.

 

The recent fire that happened in Gregory River. Picture: Supplied.
The recent fire that happened in Gregory River. Picture: Supplied.

 

"Then he wiped his face, put his hat back on, fixed the pump, filled the pod, gave me a hug, and got back to the fire."

More than 5000 hectares of land was burnt out by the fire north of Childers, which was ignited on Monday, December 16.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Service crews are still monitoring the fire on Foleys and Childers Rds and are backburning.

Ms Philips said her family members were better off than others affected by recent bushfires, as they were alive and still had their homes.

On New Year's Eve the family celebrated New Year's Eve by watching the fireworks in Bargara, where they donated to the attending Rural Fire Brigade volunteers collecting money.

Some of these volunteers helped the Philips protect their property weeks before.

"The fires that burnt my family's land were started by a cigarette butt carelessly disposed of," she said.

"Yet people want to stop the fireworks, which are a feel-good event that brings people together while raising money for the crews fighting the fires caused by the cigarette butt.

"There is already so much negativity in the world, from droughts and fires to incurable diseases and loss of life.

"It's high time some positivity was spread through kindness and acceptance rather than complaining and arguing or trying to put a stop to the good things in life like fireworks, provided they are controlled and run by professionals."

When asked what her family would be doing in the aftermath of the fires, she said "we pray like hell for rain to nourish the land and fill the dams".