Aussie Firefighter Loses Son, Back Battling Bushfire The Next Day
Ray Wright has been battling blazes for 33 years. It was a passion his son, Michael, inherited.
Michael, 41, died on Sunday from bowel cancer. The very next day, Ray was back on the frontlines, working alongside his crew to contain blazes currently assaulting Victoria.
It's believed the entire town of Tonimbuk, a rural village outside Melbourne, has been entirely obliterated by bushfire. The out-of-control fires, which were started by a lightning strike, have destroyed more than 11,000 hectares of land, including five structures at Bunyip and two in Yinnar.
That number is expected to rise on Monday.
"He'd want us to come out here," Ray said of his son.
Ray spoke to 10 News First from a firefighter staging area, as crews prepared to again head into the field to battle the blaze.
He said that his work out on the frontlines on Monday would be in memory of his son.
"He'll be with us," Ray said of Michael.
"It's what he would have wanted."
Michael's son Lauchie told 10 News First that his dad had been fighting bowel cancer for the last few years. He had been in hospital since November, bravely battling as his health deteriorated rapidly in the last week.
For the last few days, Michael had been in a deep sleep -- before he sadly passed on Sunday.
Lauchie was soon by his grandfather's side, giving him a hug as he fought back tears, and spoke fondly of his father.
"I always wanted to be like him. I'm sure today he'd want me to be out here, alongside Pa, and hopefully be proud," Lauchie said.
"He was always about helping others, so I just want to be like him as well. I thought 'why not do this?'"
Ray spoke proudly of how three generations of his family were working to keep their communities safe.
"We're on different trucks, but we're in the same strike team. Different trucks, but we're there together," he said.