Scars of inferno may never heal

SHE is almost camouflaged against the blackened landscape.

Eyes scan the charred paddocks, burnt to a crisp in the Minnimbah fire — north east of Holbrook — for the only sign of life, an 18-month-old chocolate-brown foal, called Salara.

She desperately needs veterinary attention, her wounds from the blaze still fresh.

But her owner, Melissa Meyers, hasn’t been able to get close enough to help her.

Instead, a still-skittish Salara is in mourning, pacing between the bodies of her mother — a brumby Mrs Meyers’ four-year-old daughter, Caidence, christened Flicker — and a miniature horse, Bambi.

Neither Caidence nor her brother Beau, 6, know what’s happened to their horses, or to the 1400 hectares they call home.

“We’re still trying to work out how to explain the things they love have been burnt,” Mrs Meyers said.

“We’re still coming to terms with it ourselves.”

Mrs Meyers and her husband, Tristan, are grateful for many things following the blaze — that they weren’t at their Little Billabong Road home when the flames tore over the hill; that somehow the house remains while 10,000 hectares around them burnt; that they could save their dogs and cats.

But losing the horses and seeing the land they loved turned to ash is almost too much to bear.

“I’ve been around fire all the time — pop was a fire captain and I grew up in the bush,” she said.

“But it’s been nothing like this — not to the point where it’s taken hundreds of hectares and stock and homes.”

The couple have great memories of their home where they married and have raised their kids.

But there’s been fires and floods, too — and this might be the last straw.

“It will be repaired and grow back but I don’t want to go through this again,” Mr Meyers said.

“Not with the kids — this isn’t the home they know and remember.”

The couple are relieved they and their neighbours are safe and they know others are struggling even more.

“We’ve got the emotional side of it, with the attachment to the animals and the memories, but some of our neighbours have lost everything,” Mrs Meyers said.

Like the farmers who lost their stock and pasture, leaving them with no feed for the animals left, and no livelihood.

“And the hard work is still to come. We all have to start cleaning up,” Mrs Meyers said.

The couple are now considering a move to Albury, somewhere “more stable” for the kids, if they can find homes for all their pets, including Salara, if she survives.

Mrs Meyers said the Department of Primary Industries had provided feed for a few days while the Holbrook Veterinary Clinic would tend to the wounds if they could get close enough to the frightened filly.

“She used to eat from your hand,” she said.

“Now you can’t get within 20 feet of her.”

Mrs Meyers eyes follow the foal as she limps across the paddock, the rain cooling her burns — the scars will remain long after the fire.

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