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Firestorm Hits Elim Heights Youth Camp, Australia

Paul Chapman
November 13, 2019
Bushfires in Australia destroy church buildings at the Elim Heights Youth Camp

On the evening of 12 November 2019, Sydney, Australia time, the bushfires raging in New South Wales, Australia, passed through our Elim Heights Youth Camp, nestled in the surrounds of the Yengo National Park. 


The fire has destroyed the main meeting hall, the main machinery shed, the roof of the small toilet block, and a cottage that was housing the NSW Conference President, Nathan Tyler and his family. While personal effects have been destroyed, we are grateful to the Lord that no life was lost.


Brother Tyler's family had been evacuated prior to the bushfire passing through the campground. Brother Tyler, with his rural fire services training, remained behind to do as much as he could to preserve the campground buildings with the assistance of rural fire services personnel. Together they did their best to reduce the risk of buildings catching on fire. However, Brother Tyler reports that by the time the bushfire hit the campground it had turned into a "firestorm". A firestorm is a conflagration that attains such intensity that it creates and sustains its own wind system. This becomes a fire with its own storm-force winds from every point of the compass. Effectively, a cyclone of hot wind and burning embers. The firestorm first hit the machinery shed, blowing off the roof. The wooden frame then caught alight. Due to the intensity of the firestorm, firefighting efforts were eventually abandoned. 


The firetrucks were parked as near as possible to the residence and dining hall which was the designated place of last resort and the firefighters, together with Brother Tyler, took shelter while the firestorm passed through.


Brother Tyler and his family are now safe in Sydney. Please keep them in your prayers. 


It will take a few days for us to make a full assessment of the damage, but at this stage, all other buildings are intact and functional. The buildings were insured. However, it will be a few days before an assessment is made of the cost of the damage. By God's grace, we will receive sufficient from the insurance company to rebuild the lost buildings, particularly the meeting hall. The AUC thanks everyone for their concern and willingness to help towards the cost of rebuilding. The AUC will update on any financial needs for the property as time progresses.


As we gather more information we will also make a decision on our plans for the end of year AUC Conference that had been planned to be held at Elim Heights Youth Camp.