Father Fights Wildfires in Oz to Save Daughter

A FATHER has been hailed a hero after helping to fight the wildfires in Australia and save his 11-month-old daughter s life. Carl Walsh, 29, from Whomerley Road in Stevenage, has lived in Australia for almost a year and had travelled two hours from Melbou

A FATHER has been hailed a hero after helping to fight the wildfires in Australia and save his 11-month-old daughter's life.

Carl Walsh, 29, from Whomerley Road in Stevenage, has lived in Australia for almost a year and had travelled two hours from Melbourne to Glenburn to visit his daughter, Anastasia, when disaster struck.

On Saturday night, Carl and Anastasia's mother, Thordes, heard crackling as fire approached the farm where Thordes and Anastasia live.

Wildfires have been tearing through the country for days, and have already claimed more than 180 lives in the state of Victoria.

Wearing clothes soaked in water and covering their faces with damp cloths, Carl and Thordes used hose pipes and buckets to fight the fire into the early hours of the morning.

They fought desperately for about nine hours, and the fire came within about two metres of the house before they were able to finally put it out.

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Carl's mum, Jackie Spooner, who still lives in Whomerley Road in Stevenage, said: "I heard on the news the fires had moved north and when I looked at the TV I recognised some towns because we went to visit last year.

"I texted Thordes to say 'I hope you are ok', to which she then texted back saying the fires had surrounded them and Carl had helped save Anastasia, the animals and the house.

"Carl said it was awful, but in a way I'm glad he was there because if Thordes had been on her own with the baby they wouldn't have survived."

Thordes told Jackie that the most terrifying aspect for her was during the night when thick black smoke made it almost impossible to see anything and a number of explosions made it feel like "a terrific war".

Jackie said: "It was really frightening for them and it was such a close call. I'm really, really very proud of both my son and his ex partner, because if they hadn't acted in the way they did they wouldn't be alive to tell the story."

Carl's uncle, Stevenage resident Aidan Caine, added: "Carl's family are so proud of their hero."

Carl, a former pupil at Collinswood School in Stevenage, and known as Slick to his friends, suffered minor burns and he and Thordes' eyes were swollen and sore. Anastasia slept through the whole event and was unharmed.

The farm animals and the house were saved, but fences and acres of grassland and trees were damaged by the fire.

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