Grays Point BushfirePrint Page
Memorial erected to brigade members who gave their lives whilst fighting the fire which threatened Grays Point, and to brigade members who were injured in the fire.
Tragedy was to strike on 9th January 1983 at Grays Point when a fire burning under record high temperatures (maximum. 43 C) was to trap the crew of Heathcote 81 with the death of three of the crew and serious burns to other crew members. This was to result in the longest coronial enquiry in New South Wales history. Heathcote Tanker 81 was a 1964 Bedford RLHC 4x4, essentially similar to the Headquarters 81 Tanker destroyed in the same area 3 years before. The tanker and its 10 crew was one of a number of vehicles engaged in fire suppression in bushland on "Anana Hill". All the vehicles were ordered clear as changing conditions made the hill dangerous.
Date - January 9, 1983: four bushfire brigades were dispatched to a fire trail on Anana Hill to fight fires heading towards houses and nearby Grays Point Public School. The crew included captain Keith Campbell, his daughter Sharon, Thomas Bielecke, Gregory Moon, Jim Fowler, Paul Fenn, Craig Goodall, Craig Blanche, Robert Sawyer, Phillip Bourke and Rod Crane. The mercury had risen to 38 degrees at Sydney Airport and late in the afternoon the crew were told to withdraw as winds picked up.
The crew were retreating when they noticed a woman they thought was stranded near Angle Road. Keith Campbell sent three of his team to help the woman, not knowing she was a spectator and in no danger. One volunteer escorted the woman to safety and two members returned, but as the crew tried to get out, fire blocked their path. They frantically tried to backburn around the truck to give themselves shelter but the blaze was too fierce. They huddled next to the tanker as the fire roared through. Mr Campbell died metres from the truck trying shield his crew with a hose.
There was so much ash and smoke that survivors had no idea he had been killed, along with Gregory Moon, 20. Thomas Biliecke, 35, of Caringbah, who suffered burns to 70 per cent of his body, died the next day. Six were critically injured and suffered horrific burns. Despite the awful tragedy, volunteer firefighters Jim Fowler, Sharon Campbell and Rod Crane remain active members of the Rural Fire Service. " Leader online 15 Jan 2013
|Address:||Grays Point & Angle Roads, Grays Point , 2233|
|GPS Coordinates:||Lat: -34.058549|
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
|Actual Event STart Date:||09-January-1983|
|Actual Event End Date:||09-January-1983|
|Actual Monument Dedication Date:||Sunday 18th September, 1983|
This memorial is a tribute to those members
of the Heathcote Volunteer Bushfire Brigade
who gave their lives or were injured
while fighting the fire which threatened the people
of Grays Point and their homes
on 9th January 1983;
+ KEITH CAMPBELL, Captain
+ THOMAS BIELECKE, Deputy Captain
+ GREGORY MOON
Unveiled by the Shire President, Cr Kevin Skinner
on 18th September, 1983, and
DEDICATED WITH GRATITUDE
FROM THE GRAYS POINT COMMUNITY