My heroes wear helmets

11th February, 2021   |    By Paris Heywrre 2021 Winner   |    2 min read
Heywire winner, Paris – Yamba, NSW

I remember when Dad pulled up the car to pick me up from work — my guitar and all my belongings were on the back seat.

I said, “What’s going on here?”

And he said, “There are embers in the backyard”.

Crackling flames threatening to burn the drought-fuelled bushland. Scorching hot and glowing like hell itself.

Earlier that day … it was eerie at school. The sky was orange. Our eyes glued to the Fires Near Me website. Classmates left one by one as the day went on.

I went to work after school as usual. A lot of my co-workers weren’t there that day, they were busy looking after their properties and pets. The shop was VERY quiet.

For weeks the fires kept burning, the smouldered black leaves continued to fall on our yards and as much as we wished, the rain still didn’t come.

Yuraygir National Park that spreads across tens of thousands of hectares surrounding my hometown of Yamba in the far north of NSW, burnt like a tinderbox.

The combination of high winds, scorching hot temperatures and less-than-average rainfall simply fed the inferno further.

Lying in bed at Grandma’s house that night, I stayed awake thinking about all the homes that were at risk, hoping that my friends and community were safe.

Mentally I prepared for the worst, that Angourie and Wooloweyah would be no more the next time the sun came over the smoky horizon.

All that stood between the fire and the villages was a band of courageous firies, some who’d left their own homes to fight for others.

Their faces covered in sweat and charcoal, built up over hours of backbreaking work defending our homes and lives.

As I sat eating breakfast with my family the next morning, I heard it on the news; not one single home was lost, and we owe it all to our firefighters.

Heroes don’t always wear capes; my heroes wear helmets.

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