Capella caravan fire didn't rattle 91-year-old

BILL Bourke watched many of his life's possessions go up in flames in Capella, but he was pretty glad he was already wearing his favourite moccasins.

At a sprightly 91 years of age, Bill said he was just happy he wasn't inside when the van caught fire, and that he managed to untie his dog Toohey from the back in time.

Bill was staying at the Capella Van Park, which is owned by his granddaughter, Jodi Burnell.

"It was about quarter to nine. I was up having a cup of coffee," Bill said.

"If I hadn't been around for a cup of coffee... she just went 'boom'."

Bill lost all of his identification, clothes and much of his other granddaughter's possessions in the fire.


"Pop is in the Ulysses Club," Jodi said.

"He's one of the oldest riders and they just had a big meet out at Alice Springs.

"My sister went too, and she'd just flown home with the bare essentials so she lost a lot of souvenirs and her laptop as well."


Bill and Jodi spent yesterday in Emerald, running around from the banks to the transport department and the doctor's surgery to get a medical so Bill could get his licence again.

No one was injured in the fire, which was put out by other caravanners and the Capella firies.

"The main thing is no one was injured. I just got a burnt hand," Bill said.

Jodi said she was very grateful to the Capella community for all their help and support, including the St Vincent's store where Bill got some clothes to tide him over.

"Other caravanners came to help (put the fire out), and everyone has been offering to help," Jodi said.

Bill isn't too fazed by his ordeal, and is more worried about getting his essentials in place.

"I just need my licence again, and a pair of thongs because I lost all my shoes," he said.

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