The owner of a winery in Tonimbuk has sent out a heartbreaking plea for firefighters to save the last remaining house on his property after watching it explode on live television.
Andrew Clarke, the owner of Jinks Creek Winery, 100km southeast of Melbourne, has broken down in tears as he described how his business and family home were wiped out by the blaze.
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A reminder of The legendary Jinks Creek Winery, destroyed by fire. Beautiful place, people, produce and animals. Tragic day. #bunyip #winery #fire #bunyipstateforestfire #vicwines #jinkscreekwinery #wine #harvest #gippsland #abiedwardsgallery #naturalbeauty #vineyard #pinotnoir #pinotgris #vicfires #cfa
The vineyard owner begged firefighters to save the last remaining building, so he would at least have somewhere to live.
“I’d like to ask if we could please get someone to go up to our last remaining house and try to do something,” he said on Sunrise.
“Get some crews up there or something so we’ve got somewhere to live. We’ve lost everything.”
Mr Clarke said he had just bought equipment from Germany to brew beer and the roof of his winery had caved in, but he is waiting to find out if any of his half-a-million dollars worth of gear is salvageable.
“My insurance won’t cover it, there is no way, my livelihood’s in tatters,” he said.
“I don’t have any way of earning any money, I don’t know what to do, I have got to support my family, so I’m stuffed pretty much.”
He laid blame on Parks Victoria for not doing enough burn-offs in the area, especially after the royal commission into the Black Saturday fires recommended an increase in controlled burns.
“The ferocity of that fire wouldn’t have been as much if they had been doing what they are meant to do,” Mr Clarke said.
Tonimbuk resident Karen also lost her home and backed Mr Clarke’s claim of little being done about fire management in the state park.
“No one’s done anything out there for years,” she told ABC Radio.
“I had a notice on my now-non-existent fridge that was telling us, ‘Oh we’re going to do a fuel reduction burn’, just up the road from us.
“That was a year ago at least and the fuel was sitting there, nothing done, nothing, so all that wildlife, that’s all dead – all those echidnas, all those kangaroos, all those deer, all those koalas, all those goannas that we look at all the time.”
Ten News’ Senior Journalist, Candice Wyatt is reporting the township of Tonimbuk has been “all but wiped off the map” in the devastating bushfires.
To get the Clarke’s back on their feet, a friend of the family, Nicole Ekert, has set up a GoFundMe to help with financial support. You can donate to the fund here.