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Man targeted by 'disgusting' act after offering help during bushfires

A man has returned to his car after four days of helping defend a home from a bushfire, only to find his wheels missing.

Kane Fitzpatrick shared a photo to Facebook of his car sitting in a Bunnings carpark in Wodonga, on the NSW-Victorian border, with all four wheels gone.

Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, Mr Fitzpatrick explained he isn’t a firefighter, but he decided to head up to Corryong to help out his in-law’s whose property in Thowgla Valley was under threat.

He and his brother-in-law went up to help out for four days and he left his car in the Bunnings carpark, when he and his brother-in-law stopped off in Wodonga to get supplies. The two decided to use the brother-in-law’s ute to drive up to Corryong.

Not only were his wheels stolen in what he called a “low life act”, but his car was also dented.

“It was really disappointing,” Mr Fitzpatrick told Yahoo News Australia, who was with his wife and three young children when he discovered the missing wheels.

Pictur eof Kane Fitzpatrick's car which he left in a carpark while he went to Corryong to help fight a fire.
A man returned to Wodonga after fighting fires for four days only to find the wheels from his car missing. Source: Facebook

After posting about the incident on Facebook, many slammed the thief for committing the act especially in an area desperately fighting off bushfires.

“That’s disgusting! Can’t believe that!” someone commented on the Facebook post, which now has over 1000 shares and almost 700 likes.

One woman commented on the post saying she saw the car in the carpark on Wednesday afternoon and thought it must’ve been dumped.

“That’s very sad someone would do this,” she said.

Fortunately, Sunday Tyres, which is a local business with 20 years of experience within the tyre industry, helped the man out.

“Helping a brother out,” Sunday Tyres wrote on Facebook, sharing a photo of the car now with brand new wheels.

“Thanks for fighting fires. I’ll keep ya rolling.”

Sunday Tyres owner Nathan Jones told Yahoo News Australia he didn’t know Mr Fitzpatrick but figured he was out on the frontline in Corryong.

Mr Jones said he wasn’t planning to go into work today because Wodonga is expected to reach 46 degrees, but he was scrolling through Facebook when he came across the post about the stolen wheels.

He said he knew by getting him some new tyres, free of charge, was just something he could do to help. He messaged the man, but headed to Bunnings before he even got a response.

By the time the man had gotten back to Mr Jones, the car was fitted with new wheels.

“Everyone just wants to help out in their own little way, “ Mr Jones said.

Of course, many people were happy to see a local business support someone who had been helping with the fires.

‘Callous’ theft at local fire station

Meanwhile police are investigating a burglary at a volunteer fire station in Tasmania, with police branding the act as “callous” given the current bushfire crisis in Australia.

The burglary, at Tasmania’s Weymouth Fire Station, about 60km from Launceston, happened about 10pm Friday night.

“Thieves entered the volunteer station, situated on Weymouth Road, and stole a base-station radio transceiver,” Tasmania Police wrote on Facebook.

“The neighbouring Pipers River station was also targeted, but entry was not gained to the station.”

Inspector Adam Mollineaux condemned the burglary, given the current bushfire situation in not just Tasmania, but the whole of Australia, saying the theft was “particularly callous”.

Picture of Weymouth fire station, which was targeted by thieves last night. Source: Google Maps
Picture of Weymouth fire station, which was targeted by thieves last night. Source: Google Maps

“We have bushfires burning across the country, including here in Tasmania,” Inspector Mollineaux said.

“Emergency services and local volunteer brigades such as Weymouth and Pipers River are preparing for another very high fire danger day tomorrow and something like this happens – it beggars belief.”

Police are urging members of the public to come forward if they saw anyone acting suspicious, or a vehicle in the area of Weymouth Road, Weymouth, or School Road Pipers River on Friday evening.

“What a deplorable thing to do,” one person wrote on Facebook in response to the police.

“Make them do a clean up where the fires have been through. A rap on the knuckles from the courts is not enough.”

More than 30 fires are burning across Tasmania on Saturday morning, four of which are at a watch and act level.

At least two homes have been destroyed in Tasmania, in a fire police believe was deliberately lit.

Hot and windy weather will push the fire danger to very high on the weekend, with a total fire ban declared across much of the state.

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