Darrel Hursey has been selling Unicla compressors for many years and owns a business called Tumut Auto Electrics with his wife Carol, in the Snowy Mountains region of New South Wales in Australia.
He is a volunteer firefighter and during the recent bushfire season he spent a total of two months off work to fight fires 1000 kilometres away in Grafton and Glenn Innes, as well as a huge blaze much closer to his local community.
What became known as the Dunns Road fire came within six kilometres of Darrel’s own home and burned more than 337,000 hectares of land, an area 30 per cent larger than Luxembourg. It was started on December 28 by a lightning strike and raged out of control well into February, with multiple fire fronts totalling more than 600 kilometres.
Although Darrel’s home was spared, some of his fire-fighting comrades lost theirs to the flames, including one whose new-built house was destroyed before he had chance to move in.
“You’re always in severe danger and it’s usually pretty hectic,” said Darrel. “We had to drive through flames a couple of times, that’s pretty common.”
As well as the intense heat of the fires, Darrel and his team had to endure the searing summer conditions, day and night, that contributed to the ferocity and extent of the recent fires.
“The worst was when it hit 45 degrees at 10 o’clock at night and that’s before the flames have got to you,” said Darrel.
“One night the fire ran 40-50kms, unbelievable,” he said. “This was one of the bigger ones, well and truly; it was just one of those seasons where everything’s so tinder dry.”
The nearby Kosciuszko National Park suffered extensive damage, with wildlife loss and destruction to historic buildings.
“Kosciuszko is the worst thing you can see, just really heartbreaking seeing how much burnt there is, everything’s burnt, the huts are burnt, it’s just gone,” said Darrel.
Everyone at Unicla considers Darrel a true hero and thanks him for his brave and selfless actions in helping reduce the impact of this national disaster.