Firefighter In Tears Over Claims He 'Failed' To Save Bushfire-Ravaged Village
A firefighter has broken down in tears at suggestions his crews 'failed' to save a NSW village that has been devastated by bushfires.
Firefighter Greg gave a tearful interview to radio 2GB's John Stanley on Monday after his crew fought the blaze that tore through Balmoral, in the state's southern highlands.
Greg's tears came in response to comments the state's premier Gladys Berejiklian made on Sunday, where she detailed the damage that had been done to the village.
The premier said there was "not much left" at Balmoral, which has a population of about 400, and "the devastation is shocking."
Greg was also responding to media reports which suggested the village had been 'wiped out'.
Heartbreaking images showed some homes utterly destroyed, with only gates or chimneys left standing among the rubble.
Up to 40 homes are believed to have been lost in the area.
Greg said some of the crew tasked to fight the bushfires at Balmoral had been hospitalised following their efforts.
"The suggestion that we failed in defending that village … I don’t know how the other guys take that, but me personally, I’m quite offended at the suggestion that we lost that village because we didn’t," Greg told 2GB.
The suggestion by the premier and the media ... Balmoral has not been wiped off the map. It is not almost gone. It is all still there.
Greg told Stanley the conditions at Balmoral were "horrific".
The area's federal member Angus Taylor also paid tribute to the firefighters, calling them "heroes".
“Whilst it has been devastating and tragic, the work that was done by the RFS was absolutely extraordinary," Taylor said.
Mayor of Wingecarribee Shire Council, Duncan Gair, also praised the fire crew for an 'extraordinary' job.
Balmoral falls in the Wingecarribee shire.
“I know the pressure that these guys are under, and the responsibility they take," Gair said.
"Whatever you do Greg, don’t feel you’ve let your teammates down because you haven’t."
It is unclear exactly how many properties have been affected at Balmoral, with authorities still on the ground assessing the damage. Many residents were forced to flee from their homes, and are sheltering in evacuation centres.
Matthew Deeth, the mayor of the neighbouring Wollondilly Shire Council, said the fires took a heavy toll on Balmoral.
"Most people were pulled out of their houses and if there was nobody defending houses they kind of just all lit up," he said.
Two firefighters died last week after a crash at neighbouring Buxton, as they battled the Green Wattle Creek fire.
More than 800 homes have been destroyed in NSW fires this season already, with 100 buildings lost since Saturday.
Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said it would be another 24 hours before they had an accurate number of homes destroyed.
Most of the losses were from the Green Wattle Creek fire, the huge Gospers Mountain blaze northwest of Sydney and the Currowan bushfire on the South Coast.