Helping Kangaroo Island after family loss

Tim Dornin
Army reservist Kynan Lang is helping on Kangaroo Is. after his uncle and cousin died in bushfires

Adelaide police officer and army reservist Kynan Lang has spoken about the loss of his uncle and cousin, who died fighting the Kangaroo Island bushfire, and how he didn't hesitate to "pick up that baton" and answer the call for help.

Lieutenant Lang has been on the island for several days in a logistics role, helping those impacted by the devastating fire get whatever they need.

He was among the first defence force personnel to arrive after the fire roared through the western third of Kangaroo Island, burning through most of the prized Flinders Chase National Park and threatening the central town of Parndana.

It was in that major escalation that well-known outback pilot Dick Lang and his 43-year-old son and Adelaide plastic surgeon Clayton were killed as they tried to return to the family's property.

The pair had been helping others battle the fires when their vehicle was engulfed by flames.

Lt Lang said his uncle and cousin loved Kangaroo Island.

"This was their passion. They had a hobby farm here. They loved coming here and being a part of the island," he said.

"Clarrie and Dick were trying to help the local community, doing everything they could.

"So I felt I had to come here and pick up that baton. To carry on helping the community.

"At the earliest time I could, I said I would like to come and be a part of this."

The number of defence force personnel on Kangaroo Island continues to grow with much of their work centred on recovery.

They have helped restore water supplies to local communities and have worked with farmers to bury the more than 100,000 head of livestock lost in the blaze.

They have also helped with firefighting efforts, bringing in heavy machinery to bolster containment lines and have brought vets to care for injured wildlife.

Lt Lang said it was not long after he heard of the death of his uncle and cousin that the first calls came for reservists to "step up".

"My wife was sitting next to me at the time and she said 'go for it'," he said.

"The rest is history. We came as quick as we could and we started helping."

He also fought back tears as he told of meeting a friend of his uncle at the airport, the pair sharing a silent moment.

"He didn't have to say anything. He came up to me, he saw my name and he extended his hand and we shook hands," Lt Lang said.

"Without a word spoken, we looked at each other, we nodded our heads and we had to walk away.

"That was amazing."