The West

Nightmares still haunt bushfire survivor
Nightmares still haunt bushfire survivor

Special Report: One Year On from the Bushfires

Nightmares still haunt bushfire survivor

Nightmares serve as a constant reminder of how close Stewart Bright came to death during last year's Milyeannup bushfire.

Mr Bright, his younger brother Alex and two friends were enjoying a day out at Lake Jasper when a prescribed burn lit by the Department of Environment and Conservation in Nannup broke its boundary and quickly set the region alight.

Two DEC rangers evacuating holidaymakers unwittingly led the group of four straight into the firefront.

Mr Bright said all he remembered was being surrounded by a “wall of fire”.

“I feel really lucky we got out alive,” he told the Times.

“I have nightmares every now and again about that day.”

Mr Bright said he remembered feeling “terrified” while trying to get Alex and his girlfriend's sister Alice Rankin and her friend Laura Groves out of danger as quickly as possible.

When their ute succumbed to mechanical problems, Mr Bright said their only option was to run nearly 4km — as the fire closed in on them — to a safe paddock near the farm where he was working.

Mr Bright said he was puzzled about why there had not been a focused inquiry into what happened that day in Scott River.

“There needs to be an investigation into what went wrong,” he said.

“The information the people on the ground gave us, the communication in general needs to be looked at.”

Mr Bright said he had offered evidence to the WA Government-commissioned Noetic Solutions inquiry and hoped it would result in a proper evacuation plan being drawn up for the Scott River region.

He plans to hold a barbecue tomorrow with his brother Alex and friends to commemorate the day he outran the fire.

“It's something I'll never forget,” he said.

“That experience will stay with me the rest of my life.”

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