Aussie Jewish family on the fires: ‘It’s apocalyptic but we’re coping’


SYDNEY (JTA) — Martine and Gavin Folden expected to be busy on New Year’s Eve hosting diners at their Kangaroo Valley restaurant in New South Wales, Australia. Instead, they are camping out after being evacuated as bush fires threaten their property.

The Foldens and their two children — Yumi, 11 and Cisco 9 — are sleeping in a caravan in Berry, about 12 miles from their home nearly 90 miles from Sydney. They are accompanied by two horses, two dogs and two cats.

“It’s apocalyptic but we’re coping,” Martine Folden told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. ” We’ve been here a couple of days and we don’t know how long we will have to stay. Until the fire danger passes at least.”

Folden said the family was staying in a caravan from the 1970s that has no cooking facilities. But the most distressing aspect is the evacuation’s impact on their restaurant, Betty’s Bar.

“This is the two-week period when we make a large portion of our income,” Folden said. “So many businesses that are along the coast have been affected by the fires over the last two weeks.”

Folden said the family was permitted to visit their property and she checked on farm animals that had been left behind. She discovered that the fire had so far not reached their property.

The fires have destroyed more than 1,300 homes and burned over 13.5 million acres across the country. Suburbs of cities including Sydney and Melbourne, home to several million people and large Jewish communities, also have been hit by brush fires.

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