News & Media

Children's book recalls Wye River fire

Out of the ashes of the Wye River and Separation Creek fire has come a beautiful book, which is a fitting memorial to a significant event in the town's history.

By Andrew Hack, Wye River Fire Brigade

'The Christmas Day Fire' is an account of the fire by two local children who lived through the frightening day. Eleven-year-old Juna and seven-year-old Pema Hack sheltered in Wye River Surf Lifesaving Club with their mother Karyn while their father Andrew, First Lieutenant with Wye River Fire Brigade, helped to protect the town.

"Our fire plan was always to evacuate to the surf club on any day other than Code Red," says Karyn.

The Brigade had designated the building as a refuge point. Sprinkler systems had been installed and firefighters were stationed there to protect it.

"As soon as the Watch and Act message came through on the Fire Ready App we abandoned Christmas Day celebrations, packed the car and headed to the clubhouse."

Pema had received a journal from her cousin as a Christmas gift and she started writing as the fire approached. She continued to write over the following days as the family helped to support all the fire crews that arrived in the town.

"I sat at the front door and gave out water bottles to the firemen," Pema said.

Her brother Juna was also encouraged to record his thoughts. He recalls now, "As the fire hit I had this feeling that the town would never be the same again".

The two stories have been compiled into a professional publication which includes a number of photos to give a graphic record of the day.

A book launch was held at the fire station just before Easter.

"It was a great opportunity for brigade members, families and friends to come together to celebrate the book and to enjoy each other's company. Gatherings like these are really important at the moment," Andrew Hack said.

With all proceeds of book sales going to Wye River Fire Brigade, the siblings have raised in excess of $3,500. The first run of books was snapped up quickly and the reprint has almost sold out. Brigade Captain Roy Moriarty is ecstatic. "I think it's a fantastic effort by these kids. The money will go straight to much-needed station renovations."

'The Christmas Day Fire' costs $15, plus $3 postage. Orders can be made at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Last Updated: 23 March 2017