Burnley great-gran Doris (92) flees Tasmania bush fires

WE ARE SAFE: Mrs Aspden (right) with her daughter Patricia and son-in-law John who have lost everything in the Tasmanian bush fires.
WE ARE SAFE: Mrs Aspden (right) with her daughter Patricia and son-in-law John who have lost everything in the Tasmanian bush fires.

A 92-YEAR-OLD great-grandmother from Burnley, who made her home in Australia five decades ago, has lost her home and all her possessions in the bushfires that have ravaged Tasmania.

But stoic Mrs Doris Aspden is still managing to smile despite saying she has been left with only the “shirt on her back”. She had only just settled in to her new home in Dunalley in Hobart five months ago which she shared with her daughter Patricia McCauley and son-in-law John.

Dunalley, a small fishing village, was worst hit in the bushfire crisis and the trio are among hundreds of people taking shelter in Hobart’s City Hall where a refuge has been set up. News that Mrs Aspden, who has several grandchildren and great-grandchildren, was safe and well came as a great relief to Mrs Aspden’s brother, Mr Walter Maccabe, at his home in Burnley.

He told the Express: “My son went on the internet looking for news when we heard about the fires and he found a story and photograph about Doris and her family in the Herald Sun newspaper.

“We were so relieved that they were okay. I had tried to ring Doris but it kept going to the answering machine and then we found out her house was destroyed by fire. We saw the photograph of them and they looked happy and well so that was reassuring.’’

Mrs Aspden, who was born and bred in Burnley, emigrated with her late husband, Arthur and their two daughters, Patricia and Cheryl. Their son, David, was born out there. The Aspdens lived for several years in Padiham in Cambridge Drive and Warwick Drive and Mrs Aspden worked at Perseverance Mill.

Mrs Aspden has the Burnley Express sent out to her every week so that she can keep in touch with what is happening back home.

Mrs Aspden’s son-in-law made a valiant attempt to save the family home and the boats he owns for his oyster fishing business. But he was beaten back by smoke and fire that reached 62 degrees. Police staged a major evacuation of the area and although it is not thought that anyone died in the fires there are still around 100 people still not accounted for.

Mrs Aspden is now going to stay with Cheryl at her home in New South Wales, while Patricia and John stay in Dunalley and consider their future.

They have already been overwhelmed with offers of accommodation and suppport.