'Sounds like apocalypse': Bushfire victim's final post


A 58-year-old man found dead in the mid-north coast fire ground has been named as Barry Parsons.

Local residents found Mr Parsons' body at the southern end of the Kyuna Track at Willawarrin, about 34km from Kempsey just before midnight last night.

The body of Barry Parsons was found in the mid-north coast fire ground.
The body of Barry Parsons was found in the mid-north coast fire ground.

Police investigating the death said the body was found in burnt out bushland. The 58-year-old lived in a nearby shed.

A man’s body has been found on burnt out bushland. Picture: Nathan Edwards
A man’s body has been found on burnt out bushland. Picture: Nathan Edwards

Mr Parsons was last seen on November 8 at Kyuna Track in Willawarin but was not found at the Kempsey evacuation centre and had not marked himself as "safe" with the Red Cross.

"Barry had been renting a place here for about a year and a half," local general store owner David Wilkinson, 55, said.

"He was a bit of a loner who kept to himself.

"I'm sorry he died."

In his last Facebook post, Mr Parsons wrote: "Seriously looks and sounds like apocalypse out there. F***ed up being on your own in these times."

A post-mortem examination will be conducted to determine the cause of death.

A report will be prepared for the information of the Coroner.

Mr Parsons lived in a shed on Kyuna Track, between Willawarrin and Hickeys Creek, which is currently closed while electricity crews work to clear fallen power lines.

At least five homes were destroyed in the small town west of Kempsey on the mid north coast.

In recent years, Mr Parsons ran the Facebook page "Truth Will Overcome Tyranny" and was known to be a strong advocate for cannabis, including for Dannielle Luttrell's son.

"Barry was my friend and an amazing soul that dealt with a lot of heartache over the years. He was very supportive of my son's fight for medical cannabis and was always offering to help us anyway he could," Ms Luttrell told The Daily Telegraph.

"He loved animals and always took in stray cats and kittens. He was a kind and caring person and will be missed by many in our community."

Other friends have been left in shock, including Jenny Hallam who described Mr Parsons as a "much loved" and "valued member" of the community.

Barry Parsons outside the Willawarrin Hotel. Picture: Facebook
Barry Parsons outside the Willawarrin Hotel. Picture: Facebook

"He was a beloved member of the community and one of those people you would always want to be around and was always there for his friends when they needed him," Ms Hallam said.

"We are just devastated that we couldn't be there when he needed us. He died all alone."

Ms Hallam added: "If you know someone is out on their own, check up on them during the bushfires because you cannot take the risk.

"We don't want to lose anymore."

There was no warning for Willawarrin residents when the fire came from two sides at 5.30pm on Friday.

Resident of 36 years Pauline Voase, 68, had a call from friends in Sydney on Friday night telling her to brace for the worst.

"Our friend from Sydney called and said there was a fire coming for us; that was the first we heard of it," she said.

"We looked up and all of the sudden there it was.

"We had fires through here in 1994 but it wasn't quite as bad. It's so dry and the conditions are just terrible; I've never seen anything like it."

The southern end of the Kyuna Track at Willawarrin near where the body was found.
The southern end of the Kyuna Track at Willawarrin near where the body was found.

Bellbrook fire bridge captain Gerard Wade, 50, described Friday's blaze as the hardest fight of his life.

"Friday afternoon this was a fire storm that came down off the mountain and roared for 60 kilometres," Mr Wade said.

"I got down to Willawarrin just as the fire storm hit and it was just purple and red clouds."

The discovery of Mr Parson's body takes the suspected death toll from the state's bushfire crisis to four after two people were found dead in Wytaliba and another north of Taree.

Julie Fletcher, 63, was discovered in a burnt-out home in the town of Johns River.

Wytaliba resident Vivian Chaplain, 69, died in hospital on Saturday morning after being found with severe burns.

George Nole's body was found in a car in the aftermath of the Kangawalla fire near Glen Innes.

There is a possibility more bodies will be found in the remote towns west of Kempsey, according to local fire brigade captain Gerard Wade.

"It is a big community effort to try and locate and detect everyone," Mr Wade said.

"Hopefully everyone will come out safe but unfortunately I think we will have this situation a little bit.

"Lots of people live around here."

A fire cloud, also known as a pyrocumulus cloud, produced dry lightning in the tinder dry region on Friday afternoon.

"The pyrocumulus cloud just snowballed off the big mountain," he said.

"We were bouncing in front of the fire storm all the way."

Firefighters still contending with spot fires six days after the inferno are running low on supplies, with a string of road closures caused by downed trees and powerlines causing havoc on local roads.

The combination of the state's worst ever drought and road closures has forced firefighters to fill their tanks with whatever water they can find.

"We've had no power, the water was getting low in our local reserve, we're all on generators and borrowing diesel and petrol from local farmers.

"We're running a generator out of the Macleay River, which is providing water to our tank.

"I drained my motorbike so we could run the generator two nights ago."

Neighbour Jutta Flynn, 64, survived the Kyuna Track inferno by the barest margins after driving headlong through flames covering the dirt road.

Jutta Flynn escaped the bushfire. Picture Nathan Edwards.
Jutta Flynn escaped the bushfire. Picture Nathan Edwards.

As the retired nurse was slamming her car doors shut to speed away, her Bull Arab dog, Dozer, jumped out. She had no choice but to leave the dog behind.

"There was a fireball coming and the roar sounded like a freight train," she said.

"I could see the fire devils through the think black smoke.

"Dozer jumped out of the car just as I was about to leave and there is no way I could have gone back for him.

" I just got in the car and ran for my life.

"I drove through two lots of fire covering the road before I made it to Willawarrin, three kilometres away. I just floored it."

The besser blocks that supported Mrs Flynn's home exploded in the heat of the fire and there is no trace of her indoor tiles, which completely incinerated.

By her estimation Mrs Flynn left her home within three minutes of being warned to leave, so Mr Parsons who lived further down the dirt track had no chance of survival.

"If I kept packing and didn't get out when I did, I'd be dead too," she said.

"If Barry (Parsons) was still there when I left, he didn't stand a chance."

Mr Parsons was writing a book at his home on the bush block, according to Mrs Flynn.

"Barry said he was up here for the peace and quiet," she said.

"We have a lovely community with a lot of funny little people, like artist types who write songs or books.

"Barry was obviously well educated and he was a friendly man, but he was always a little bit depressed and always worried.

"He didn't have any money, so I'd sometimes take him up some food in a container."

Mrs Flynn and her husband, Terry Flynn, 71, who is a veteran SAS commando, have are staying with a Kempsey family who spotted them at a shelter for bushfire survivors.