When Bec Winter was ready to enjoy summer with her son and family, she didn't expect it to turn into the escape of her life which would cost her her home.
As New South Wales in Australia was covered in blazes due to the raging bushfires spreading rapidly across the south coast, many were forced to flee their houses. And one such woman was Bec Winter who grabbed her son and her horse before riding away to safety on New Year's Eve. But a fear-filled week and having to run away was not the only blow she and her family had to deal with.
Upon return to her Moruya home with her son, Riley, she had to face a home that had been looted by heartless and opportunistic thieves. "Yesterday we thought we will go in if we can stay there we will stay, and we walked in to find the house totally ransacked," she told Today Australia (9Now).
Not even the Christmas presents were spared as everything was taken, including the bike young Riley had received for the holiday. And even though the house was still standing, the devastated mother revealed that even her son's favorite chicken had perished in the blaze. "I have no words. Yesterday Riley asked if he could swear and I said, 'darling today you can'. You know. He was devastated… It's heartbreaking," said Bec.
Her father, Ron Winter, took to Facebook to write a scathing message to the thieves. "May your new years be the worst you can imagine. This is the lowest of all acts you can imagine. How we get to meet you," he wrote, according to The Daily Mail. The Bec also posted on her page a picture of Riley with the Christmas bike requesting if anyone has seen it.
But despite the shock and tragedy that the family came back to, she considers themselves lucky, especially considering those who fared worse. "The house was burnt up to every side. I don't know how the house survived. It was all in the preparation prior to leaving," she said. "There are a lot of people that have lost so much more than what we have. We are one of the lucky ones really."
However, there was a silver lining in this dark cloud. On the day that this took place, the mother told the news outlet that the sky had suddenly darkened and her cousin had taken the decision to evacuate everyone including the kids and their dogs. Bravely, Bec stayed back to save her beloved horse, Charmer. "I saddled the horse up immediately, shaking like you wouldn't believe… It was just unbelievable. Not knowing whether we were riding into fire, or whether the heat was from the fire or just the actual day… we just chose the right direction and she was amazing. Absolutely amazing."
As they fled, though Bec saw wallabies trying to escape the flames, she knew in order to survive, she and Charmer would have to stay focused. And they did just that. "It's the first time that she's never shied at silly things. She just knew we were on a mission. It was just extremely smoky, extremely dark. There were wallabies fleeing in front of us." The animal lover said it was that this event helped forge an even stronger bond with her horse.
"I cried once we got to safety. I just cried and hugged her… she's just my hero. She's my big puppy. She's part of - she's part of the family. There is - you know, there was no way I was going to leave her," Bec said.
This bushfire season has been devastating and it has caused a mass evacuation for residents as well as holidaymakers. But while we are happy that Bec didn't lose much, our hearts go out to those who are missing or who have lost their loved ones as well as their homes.