The Australian ‘Black Summer’ bushfires of 2019-2020 saw a period of intense, high-severity fires spread across Australia, burning an immense 17 million hectares of land. Thirty-three people, include nine firefighters, lost their lives, approximately 3,000 homes were destroyed, and over one billion animals were killed or injured.
During the catastrophic season, chief photographer at The Sydney Morning Herald, Nick Moir, captured what is now one of the most iconic photographs from bushfires of 2019-2020 (pictured above). Moir was travelling the 79 Station Ingleburn Fire and Rescue NSW crew attending the Green Wattle Creek fire, Orangeville, when the severity of the bushfire increased dramatically. Moir described to The Sydney Morning Herald how winds had reached up to 80 kilometres per hour and the flames reached as high as 100 metres tall.
During the ordeal, Moir managed to capture the silhouette of a solitary Fire and Rescue NSW truck - its headlights gleaming, with the inferno in its wake. The photo represents the harrowing conditions of Black Summer and stands as testament to, not only the brave 79 Station Ingleburn Fire and Rescue NSW unit, but all of Fire and Rescue NSW’s firefighters who fought against the bushfires in 2019-2020.
The crew on the appliance during the day the photograph was taken were:
Captain Joel Kursawe (Joel is the Captain at Camden)
Retained Fire Fighter Scott Mayer
Retained Fire Fighter Carlton Hillier
Retained Fire Fighter Gabriel Dahar
Two years after the photograph was taken, Deputy Commissioner, Jeremy Fewtrell, proudly presented a framed copy of the now recognisable image to the Museum of Fire’s CEO, Belinda McMartin, during an event hosted at the museum grounds in Penrith. The Deputy Commissioner also presented a second framed photograph to the 79 Station Ingleburn team who were in attendance with members of their family and thanked them for their service while acknowledging the wider support Fire and Rescue NSW continue to provide to New South Wales communities. In attendance was also Nick Moir, Fire and Rescue NSW and the Museum of Fire representatives.
During her speech, Belinda offered her thanks to the Deputy Commissioner and reiterated the importance of the museum’s relationship with Fire and Rescue NSW as their official heritage partner, and the need to both commemorate and preserve significant narratives such the one that accompanies the Green Wattle Creek fire photograph.
The memorable image has now been hung in the Museum of Fire and represents an important narrative that remains a part of Fire and Rescue NSW’s history.
Other Additions to the Museum
As the new Heritage Manager at the Museum of Fire, I’d like to say a warm hello to the Nepean community and stakeholders of the museum who both play an enormously important role in museum’s output.
I’ve just come off the back of a wonderful stint with NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, but am looking forward to being a part of the Museum of Fire team and working with local families and Fire and Rescue NSW to enhance and conserve the important heritage that the museum is responsible for.
We have a number of upcoming displays and exhibitions that I have been working on – including the 2021 Art Competition exhibition, which showcases the artistic talents of our local youths responding to the theme of ‘resilience’. We also have a number of new displays that will be installed in the museum in the first half of next year – including a HAZMAT display and the Celebrating Our Connections with Japan exhibition, so please stay tuned!
-Natasha, Heritage Manager