A bushfire survivor living with a disability who lost his home in a massive bushfire is backing calls for authorities to do more to help vulnerable people prepare for longer and more intense fire seasons, reports ABC.
Tom and Lynn Armington lost their house, cars and pets in a 2014 bushfire in the Perth Hills which destroyed more than 50 homes. On the morning of the fire Mr Armington, who is blind and in a wheelchair, picked up the telephone to an automated telephone alert system. “And I heard this kind of unearthly alarm sound [and then] Emergency! Emergency!” he recalled.
The couple only had a vague household bushfire plan, and in hindsight they were not at all prepared for what was to come. Mrs Armington knew she had to get her husband to safety as soon as possible. She decided to take him to a shopping centre a short drive away before returning to the house for their pets and some belongings. But traffic chaos ensued as people evacuated, and the ordinarily short journey became a 40 minute round trip. Shortly after she returned to the house it caught fire, as well as both of their cars, leaving her to run for her life through flames, burning her arms.
Mr Armington said he would like to see local authorities create a register of vulnerable people to ensure all at-risk people, especially those who lived alone, were prepared for an emergency. People with Disabilities WA executive director Samantha Jenkinson has also called for greater support for vulnerable people to prepare for bush fires.