A Fire Inside is a memorable documentary which captures the extraordinary bravery of the fire fighters who battled Australia’s worst bushfires two years ago – and also the human cost of the devastation.
The fires which roared down the east coast in the summer of 2019/20 were the most destructive in the country’s history.
Thirty three people died, and an estimated three billion animals were incinerated. An area bigger than England was reduced to ash. Farmers saw their properties razed and hundreds of people lost their homes.
Directors Justin Krook and Luke Mazzaferro have produced a sensitive film which goes further than focussing on dramatic scenes of towering flames and intrepid firefighters.
They have taken an in-depth look at the lasting effect of the fires, not only on the people who lost everything in the fires, but also on the heroic firemen who fought to save them.
One fire fighter who risked his life time and again during one shocking night on New Year’s Eve returned home to find that his uncle and his cousin had been killed while trying to save their home.
He and his partner had driven through flames to rescue one family of seven who had been huddled under a wet blanket in their burning home but he was filled with guilt that he hadn’t been able to save his own family.
At Balmoral, a village of 400 people, a handful of volunteers fought to the point of exhaustion as the place was surrounded by fires on all sides.
“We thought we were going to die that night,” said chief fire fighter Brendan O’Connor. “Then just as we ran out of water our first back-up came.They were absolute lifesavers. Two fire fighters died that night and 18 homes went down – half the village.”
Afterwards O’Connor found he could not stop crying. Eventually he sought help from counsellors, and many others followed his example.
“We’re not as tough as we thought we were – but we are resilient,” he said.
The film features graphic stories of the extraordinary bravery of the volunteer firefighters, who turn up day after day to battle the flames without any payment for their work.
It also highlights the generosity of the people who rallied to help in the aftermath of the fires, and the continuing need for help for those still struggling to recover, long after the flames went through.
This is a thoughtful film which emphasises the increasing danger of huge bushfires as the climate gets hotter, and the need to replace current back-burning practices with the Aboriginal system of much smaller and more frequent burns.
A Fire Within opens 7 October at Luna Leederville, the Windsor and Luna on Essex.
Watch the trailer…