A volunteer firefighter, who lost his wife to cancer last year, is now living in a tent after his house burned down in the catastrophic bushfire crisis in Australia.
Ash Graham, who lost his house in Nerrigundah on the New South Wales south coast on New Year’s Eve, managed to survive the inferno with his truck, a few belongings and his loyal dog, three-year-old Kozi, by his side.
Kozi was left at the local fire station while Graham went out to warn others in the area to evacuate their homes. However, the dog fled the fire station as the blaze approached the building.
You can see more of Ash’s story here:
Now, Ash is spending his days looking for his loyal companion, who was last seen outside the fire station, and says he won’t stop until he finds him.
Speaking through tears, he said:
He was the only thing I was left with when my wife passed away, so, yeah, he’s my best mate.
He’s my motivation, he gets me out of bed of a morning on my down days.
Graham has searched through all the mine shafts and wombat holes, and says he hopes his pooch headed towards water.
I’m just hoping that he was faster than Armageddon.
Maybe I just haven’t walked that extra hundred metres, maybe I’ve just over-glanced an area and there were a couple of houses I hadn’t looked under.
Ash’s wife Melanie passed away from cancer one year before the devastating bushfire crisis tore through the south coast of Australia.
Although he previously worked as a roofer, Graham stopped working for six years to care for his wife before she died.
He now plans to cut down trees on the property in a bid to make it safer for him to set up his camp trailer, where he will be living for the foreseeable future.
Despite the obvious risks, Graham says Nerrigundah will always be his home, saying he’ll ‘never move’.
The small village is one of the hardest hit by Australia’s devastating bushfires, with two thirds of homes destroyed by the blaze.
A man in 70s who lived near the village was one of the 27 lives lost in the fires, which have also destroyed more than 2,000 homes and scorched 10 million hectares of land.
Here’s to hoping Graham is reunited with his loyal companion soon.
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Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.