Sheffield man killed in ‘atom bomb’ inferno trying to save horse in Australia

Thomas Butcher
Thomas Butcher
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A Sheffield man has died after being caught up in a deadly wildfire trying to save a beloved horse in rural Australia.

Thomas Butcher, aged 31, was among four killed after fleeing the inferno which swept onto a farm he was working on.

Thomas Butcher

Thomas Butcher

It is thought that Mr Butcher, who tried to save the horse by loading it onto a utility carriage, died of smoke inhalation after trying to escape alongside two other women.

Another man from the farm, an Australian national, also died in the blaze, described as like an ‘atom bomb’ going off.

Mr Butcher, a mechanic, died on Tuesday afternoon in fires which destroyed more than 300,000 hectares of bushland and continue to rage out of control in areas north of Esperance, a town in the state of Western Australia.

His sister, Jessica Greenaway, who lives in Queensland, said her brother had bought sheep and planned to live in Australia and start a farm.

She said he moved to the country around four years ago and lived in Queensland before moving to Western Australia a year ago.

“He was very easy going and laid back and he liked the easy laid-back lifestyle that he had found in Australia,” she said.

“He loved life. He lived every day to the max. Everybody that met Tom loved Tom. He died doing what he wanted to do, trying to save his horse.

“His horse was just his life. That was the reason he wanted to get his horse out.

“I don’t think any words can describe how I’m feeling.”

Linda Campbell, who owns the farm which Thomas worked on, said: “We knew the fire was coming.

“In the morning it was 100 kilometres away and looked pretty bad. We got ready and it hit in the mid-afternoon. Imagine an atom bomb going off a kilometre down the road - that’s what it looks like. Everything goes dark. There is smoke everywhere.

“There were all these burning embers flying through the air in 140 kilometres per hour winds. It is horrific. Anything alive out in that does not make it.”

Mr Butcher’s parents have been informed and are due to travel to Australia on Saturday.