Australian Bushfire Victims

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2009:

Chris Towie, M.D. 53, was killed by bushfire on his land
at Reedy Creek, near Broadford, Australia, on February 7, 2009.
“It is believed he was trying to save his animals,” reported the
Melbourne Herald-Sun. Partially deaf, Towie was known for
confronting bureaucracy on behalf of immigrants, the disabled, and
the disadvantaged, and for demanding that more be done to fight
methadrine addiction. Animals were also among his priorities.
“Every animal he found he took home,” Broadmeadows medical clinic
manager Cheryl Ferguson told Carol Nader of the Melbourne Age. The
animals whom Towie died defending reportedly included several camels,
emus, horses, a pony, five dogs, and many birds.

Marcel Smits, 56, was killed by bushfire at St. Andrews,
Australia, on February 7, 2009. “Smits was the president of the
Victoria Cat Protection Society,” recalled former Royal SPCA of
Australia president Hugh Wirth. “He was husband of Carole Webb, a
Royal SPCA Victoria board member.” Webb and their children were
safely away from the fire scene. Smits headed the Z Transport Group,
and was active in the Motorcycle Riders Association of Victoria.

Angela Brunton, a prominent Australian artist believed to be
in her seventies, who featured portraits of kangaroos in her last
exhibit, was killed by bushfire on February 7, 2009 with her
longtime partner Reg Evans, 80, an actor, at their farm near St.
Andrews. An heirloom cradle made by Evans in 1972, used by more
than 100 local children since, whose names are inscribed in a
registry in St. Andrews, survived the fire because the family
currently using it took it to Canberra.

Melanie and Penny Chambers, 22 and 21, were killed on
February 7, 2009 while trying to save horses at their mother’s
property near Kingslake, Australia.
John Barnett, reportedly in his sixties, was killed with
his wife Jenny Barnett in their car on February 7, 2009 as they
tried to outrace a wall of fire near Steels Creek, Australia. A
University of Melbourne endocrinologist, Barnett was principal
research fellow for the Animal Welfare Science Centre on the
university campus, was a scientific advisory panelist for the World
Society for the Protection of Animals, and had for about 15 years
been active in the International Society for Applied Ethology.
Barnettt also managed the animal welfare program for the Australian
Poultry Cooperative Research Centre and chaired a Victorian
government Animal Ethics Committee for wildlife and small
institutions, recalled an ISAE memorial. Before joining the
University of Melbourne, Barnett spent 30 years with the Australian
Department of Primary Industries.

Jenny Barnett, reportedly in her sixties, was killed with
her husband John Barnett in their car on February 7, 2009 as they
tried to outrace a wall of fire near Steels Creek, Australia. A
field biologist, Barnett joined the Mammal Survey Group of Victoria
in the 1960s. She later worked for the Victorian Environment Centre,
the Wilderness Society, and the Victoria National Parks Association.
For the latter, Jenny Barnett extensively documented the effects on
wildlife of the Victoria bushfires of 2003–a devastating prelude to
the fires of 2009. Best known for leading campaigns on behalf of
protecting wildlife habitat, Jenny Barnett was also remembered by
longtime friend Irene Baker for “often having a pouch with a rescued
baby ringtailed possum or such-like.” In 2005 Jenny Barnett
criticized the Victoria Department of Sustainability & Environment
for issuing more than 5,000 permits to kill animals of 65 species in
only two years. She argued that the department should focus on
educating the public to learn to live with wildlife.

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