A truly heroic Irish firefighter made an emergency flight to Australia to battle the wildfires that have scorched the country.
Australia, with its large Irish expat community, is like a home away from home for the Irish and holds a special place in our hearts. Sadly, volunteers and professionals alike are currently fighting to contain the apocalyptic bushfires throughout Australia and prevent them from doing any more damage. Others are risking their lives in an attempt to stop further wildlife from being killed.
Kangaroo Island, one of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations and a world-famous wildlife park that rests in the country’s south-eastern coastline, has endured some of the worst damage to the nation’s biodiversity.
Connor Nourse, just 21 years old and from Tralee, County Kerry, made an emergency flight to Australia on Tuesday.
The fires have destroyed life across Australia and been described as “total devastation”
Nourse explained that he had received a call from the emergency services on Kangaroo Island in southern Australia. He had briefly worked there two years previously as a firefighter and will now return to the rescue services, as well as take up the post of coastguard.
Having flown out on Tuesday, he began packing as soon as he received the SOS call on Sunday, the Irish Sun reported.
“They are crying out for help … there has been total devastation in a lot of areas”, the Irish firefighter explained.
Headlines show that at least two people have died on Kangaroo Island as a result of the fires, while as many as 25,000 koalas have been taken by the flames and 150,000 hectares of land have been lost.
Even more devastatingly, it is estimated that around 15 million acres of land have been lost across Australia in total since September, while one billion animals have died so far.
Kangaroo Island was once a pristine beauty spot, but it’s now decimated
The island is considered a safe-haven and refuge for animals, like the thousands of koalas that have and are still being killed in the fires.
It is also here that the only chlamydia-free koalas exist in the entirety of Australia.
With 509km of coastline and 155km from the east coast to the west coast, Kangaroo Island is Australia’s third-largest island and offers native wildlife and spectacular adventure that makes it popular among tourists.
Now, as much as 48% of its landmass has been affected by the wildfires, and its ecosystems have been devastated.
Connor Nourse battled the fires without hesitation
“It’s separate in a way because they have a very limited number of volunteers […] I’m not sure how much difference one person can make but I’ll help out as much as I can.”
During his brief time in the country in 2018, he worked on aiding water-bombing aircrafts as a volunteer. However, the Irish firefighter insisted that if he was now needed to step onto the front-lines, he would do so without hesitation.
Understandably, the Tralee man’s mother was nervous about his trip, but he knew he was going for “the right reasons”.
Nourse bravely proclaimed that he is anticipating being in Australia “indefinitely” while the bushfires continue.
Already, the efforts of strangers have allowed fires to be quelled and animals to be rescued, proving that a bit of kindness can go a long way.