Gippsland fires: Mick Roberts confirmed dead in Buchan fire


A loved great-grandfather and town “larrikin” has been identified as the first victim of East Gippsland’s bushfire tragedy.

Mick Roberts, 67, was found dead inside his fire-ravaged home in Buchan this morning.

His body was discovered by his nephew, Jason, who delivered the sad news to family.

Mr Roberts’ niece, Leah Parsons, told the Herald Sun her uncle had been painting his home with two mates before the bushfire hit.

“They ran into the river on the property but they couldn’t get him to go,” she said.

“He said he needed to go into the shed for a minute and they never saw him again.”

Mr Roberts was a cattleman who loved his family and farm, located on 450 acres of land on Sunny Point Rd.

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media_cameraBuchan bushfire victim Mick Roberts
Mick Roberts, 69, with his late mother Wyn.pacific.epeak.in/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Gippsland-fires-Mick-Roberts-confirmed-dead-in-Buchan-fire.webp”/>
media_cameraMick Roberts, 69, with his late mother Wyn.

He had a daughter, step daughter, step son and great grandchildren and spent Christmas with family in Melbourne.

Ms Parsons said her family were “numb” with grief at his death.

Mr Roberts was seen as “a bit of a legend in town” and will be missed, she said.

“He was an amazing worker and storyteller … a bit like old Jack Thompson,” she said.

“He was a real larrikin. He was brought up tough … he had lots of kids in his family.

“He never complained about anything. He was a real salt of the Earth sort of guy.

“He was always walking around in his blue overalls and work boots.

“We are devastated and numb. He was my favourite uncle … his home was a constant swinging door of people who would come to visit.

“He was very very loved.”

Locals are also mourning his tragic death as devastation sweeps the town.

Mr Roberts was described by his niece as “old school” and that he would “always defend his home” if faced with fire.

“He believed you don’t run from anything,” she said.

About 200 residents are sheltered at the local pub in Buchan as they await news about the state of the town, where at least 24 structures have been lost.

There is still no power but food is being provided at the relief centre.

Blackened trees can be seen lining deserted roads into town and roads remain closed.

BUCHAN STILL WITHOUT POWER

The township of Buchan which was ravaged by Monday’s bushfires is still isolated and without power.

Mike Cooper is one of the few residents who have access to a working mobile phone in Buchan.

The town has been without power or phone reception since Monday.

“Everyone from Buchan is stranded at the moment,” he said.

“It is mayhem. Buchan is obliterated.”

Mr Cooper said “people are running out of supplies” in the town but there were incredible acts of kindness between the locals.

“The pub owner and his Mrs are feeding everyone even though they lost their own home,” he said.

“They will still soldiering on, managing to feed everyone.”

A facebook page for locals to communicate information out to friends and family has been set up.

For some, it is the only way of telling their loved ones they are alive.

“The towers need to be up and going to people can communicate,” Mr Cooper said.

“I don’t know what Telstra is doing, they need a kick in the ass.

“People can’t communicate with each other and it is creating more panic.

Mr Cooper said the town was isolated due to the risk of falling trees on the only road in and out of the small township.

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He said he was sleeping the side door of his truck at the footy oval.

“People are around, we are all banding together to help each other out.

“It is not good but everyone is in pretty good spirits, what can you do?

“When it was all on fire, it was pretty hectic.

“When you live in the bush, it is just what happens.”

Originally published as Buchan ‘town legend’ confirmed dead in horror bushfires



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