The story behind this photograph: Mother reveals her family’s desperate tale of survival after taking a snap of her son, 11, steering a boat with their belongings as they fled the bushfires
- Allison Marion’s photo of her son Finn has become a symbol of the bushfire crisis
- Haunting image showed boy wearing a mask as they fled Mallacoota in Victoria
- Ms Marion said she took now-iconic photo to ‘record our story for our family’
- 4,000 people were trapped in the town on Thursday as flames raced towards it
A mother whose haunting photo of her 11-year-old son fleeing a blaze became a symbol of the ongoing bushfire crisis has revealed the heartbreaking story behind her family’s escape.
Allison Marion, her two sons and their family dog were among 4,000 stranded in Mallacoota in Victoria’s far east as a horrific bushfire closed in on the town on Tuesday.
Fleeing the seaside town in a power boat in a thick red haze, Ms Marion said she took the jarring photo to ‘record our story for our family’.
Allison Marion’s photo of her son Finn fleeing the advancing bushfires in the seaside town of Mallacoota in Victoria’s far east has become an symbol of this year’s bushfire crisis
The image has since been splashed across the front pages of newspapers both in Australia and internationally as the world watches on at the unprecedented bushfire crisis.
Ms Marion told ABC News she was proud of how her sons Finn – who was pictured with a mask covering his mouth – and Caleb pulled together in an emergency.
‘We were lucky enough to be with a group of other people from Mallacoota and other families who assisted us,’ she said.
‘We followed them out to Goodwin Sands where we were located for the day and there were a lot of Mallacoota people sheltering.’
The family’s home was spared by the blaze, which mercifully also missed the rest of her street.
Aerial footage taken on Wednesday showed there were others in the town who were less lucky though – with streets and buildings razed to the ground.
Residents are pictured on the wharf at Mallacoota about 10.30am on Tuesday; Ms Marion’s home was spared from the blaze but aerial footage on Wednesday showed multiple homes destroyed by the blaze
‘Our street somehow escaped the fire somehow, however, I feel for many people in our community who have lost their homes. It’s just truly saddening,’ Ms Marion said.
On Tuesday evening, it was revealed thousands of people would be rescued by army helicopters after spending New Year’s Eve stranded on the beach.
The Australian Defence Force are helping to respond to fires raging in Victoria’s East Gippsland where four people are missing in blazes which have destroyed at least 43 homes.
Pictured: The sky turned a deep shade of red in Mallacoota about 7.30am on Tuesday. Residents woke to pitch-black conditions are the fire approached
Firefighters will also be flown out of the small town so there can be a shift change.
‘We’ve got choppers taking 90 firefighters out of the Mallacoota area, they can’t be removed any other way – we’re essentially doing a shift change by the air,’ Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said.
‘We’ve never done that before, getting firefighters that are essentially isolated in that Mallacoota community out and fresh teams going in.’
Mr Andrews and Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said the situation had been unprecedented.
The sky transformed into a deep red in Mallacoota on Tuesday, with residents reporting ‘hot embers’ and a ‘roar’
‘I know everyone wants it to be simple. We do, too. It is not. This is a complex set of fires and the coming days and week also be very challenging,’ Mr Andrews said.
More than 500,000 hectares have been burnt as three fires in East Gippsland combined on Tuesday.
The sky turned an eerie shade of black on Tuesday morning before transforming into a deep red, with residents reporting ‘hot embers’ falling from the sky and a deafening ‘roar’ as the fire approached.
The blaze at Corryong in northeast Victoria on the NSW border is also at risk of spreading and merging.
Confirmed property losses are 24 structures at Buchan, 19 at Sarsfield, 10 at Mallacoota and up to 15 at Cudgewa.
Power has been cut to more than 7000 properties at East Gippsland and more than 1800 in the northeast.