Former South East man returns to help save the day

Peter Wilde returned to the South East to help protect the area he grew up in.
Peter Wilde returned to the South East to help protect the area he grew up in.

A former South East man has shared his delight at being able to help fight the fire that threatened the area that gave him so much as a child.

Mount Pleasant Country Fire Service volunteer Peter Wilde was one of the 250 CFS firefighters who risked their lives to save Lucindale from the Blackford fire last week, but Mr Wilde said it was "an honour" to return to the area in which he grew up.

He was born at the Naracoorte Hospital in 1943, and for a long time, held the record for the largest baby ever born at the hospital.

He was schooled and raised in Robe and Kingston, before moving from the area for his wife's job.

Speaking on Wednesday, he said that he was delighted to be able to help the community that he grew up in.

"When the Blackford fire was announced, I thought "Lucindale, that's close to Naracoorte" but I didn't know how close the fire was going to get to Naracoorte," he said.

"So I was pleased to be given the opportunity to come here, it feels like the most delightful type of small payback.

"We were billeted at the Naracoorte High School, which was interesting - we were in the science lab, so there were all sorts of interesting pictures on the wall!

"I consider it to be a privilege to be able to come here, and help the local people - it makes you humble.

"All the people I have encountered in the CFS are quite dedicated and aware that it could be our turn to need help from a brigade next, so to come away for a job like this is no burden."

Mr Wilde has been in the CFS for 20 years, and is also a member of air support, a fact which delights his four grandchildren.

"Right from their first consciousness, they thought Poppy Pete owned the fire truck," he said.

"As a hedge against my possible retirement from active firefighting one day, I am also a member of air support so now they think I own the aircraft as well!"

Mr Wilde, along with the other volunteers, enjoyed a meal at the Lucindale pub before returning home on Wednesday, which he described as "superb."