Peregian bushfire victim Pam Murphy who has been living with neighbours Lester (pictured) and Jackie Harding after her home was destroyed during the September blaze. Picture: Lachie Millard
Peregian bushfire victim Pam Murphy who has been living with neighbours Lester (pictured) and Jackie Harding after her home was destroyed during the September blaze. Picture: Lachie Millard

90-year-old Peregian fire victim's road to recovery

When the home of 90-year-old Pam Murphy burnt to the ground in the Peregian Beach bushfire two neighbours didn't hesitate to help.

On the night of September 9 a wall of flame roared towards the seaside hamlet on the Sunshine Coast

Fierce winds stoked an unprecedented ember storm, sparking spotfires hundreds of metres from the fire front.

Hundreds of residents were evacuated as a 70 metre high wall of flames raced towards residential areas.

Peregian Beach resident Pam Murphy in the wreckage of her home on Plover Street which was destroyed by bushfire. Picture: Lachie Millard
Peregian Beach resident Pam Murphy in the wreckage of her home on Plover Street which was destroyed by bushfire. Picture: Lachie Millard

 

But after a miraculous battle waged by firefighters all homes were spared, except for Pam's.

Forty years of memories, artefacts and belongings were taken by the inferno in minutes.

But the fire couldn't destroy community spirit.

Nearby neighbours Lester and Jackie Harding were there from the start - keeping Pam company at the evacuation centre, pulling surviving artwork from her the ruins of her home and even opening up their own home.

Pam said she was eternally grateful for their kindness.

"I'm very lucky to have Lester and Jackie Harding," she told The Courier-Mail.

"Ever since the fire I've been here."

From across the road she can watch on as builders resurrect her home and keep an eye on her traumatised cat.

Neighbours Jackie (far left) and Lester Harding help clean up at Pam Murphy's after it was destroyed by bushfire. Picture: Lachie Millard
Neighbours Jackie (far left) and Lester Harding help clean up at Pam Murphy's after it was destroyed by bushfire. Picture: Lachie Millard

Ask the Hardings about their gesture for compassion and they're humble to a fault.

"It was just one of those things that's the right thing to do at the time," Lester said.

"If somebody else's house had burnt down, we'd have down the same thing."

Lester said it was the least he could do for a neighbour who he'd spoken to every other day for the last 10 years.

Peregian bushfire victim Pam Murphy who has been living with neighbours Lester (pictured) and Jackie Harding after her home was destroyed during the September blaze. Picture: Lachie Millard
Peregian bushfire victim Pam Murphy who has been living with neighbours Lester (pictured) and Jackie Harding after her home was destroyed during the September blaze. Picture: Lachie Millard

"I feel what we've done is very little compared to people who don't even know her who have contributed kindness," he said.

"Pam's had an enormous quantity of people dropping things off."

Pam has taken the loss of her home in her stride but admits it can be hard to adjust.

One bittersweet development has been her Burmese cat Daisy.

A monstrous and devastating fire ripped through Peregian Springs, Peregian Breeze and Peregian Beach heading north towards Marcus Beach and Noosa in September Picture: John McCutcheon/Sunshine Coast Daily
A monstrous and devastating fire ripped through Peregian Springs, Peregian Breeze and Peregian Beach heading north towards Marcus Beach and Noosa in September Picture: John McCutcheon/Sunshine Coast Daily

Pam thought she'd lost the feline in the blaze.

But weeks later it emerged alive.

"She won't come near me, but she's alive," Pam said.

"I feed her every night, she's eating she looks very well but she is so traumatised.

"We are hoping when the house is built she'll come back."


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