As firefighters desperately fought to save property and lives on the central coast, someone was kind enough to think of little Scarlet. The small brushtail possum with a joey in her pouch was found badly burnt among the raging fire, one of hundreds of native active animals affected by blazes across NSW.
WIRES volunteer Elizabeth Pinner, 67, was on hand to look after one of the forgotten victims of the fires. She is nursing the possum and joey back to health at her Watanobbi home, giving it warm milk and naming her Scarlet after the bright red bottlebrush she loves chomping on.
The possum has found with a burnt ear and hind foot, and was badly dehydrated. "She was petrified," said Ms Pinner. "It's very scary for these animals."
Such rescuers are critical in the days after a bushfire, when native animals struggle to survive. WIRES crews will walk through destroyed bushland in coming days to look for injured animals. Spokesman Carla Toyne said only a small handful will survive the horrific fires.
"It's heart-breaking to walk around after a bushfire," she said. "Reptiles, possums and koalas find it very difficult to escape especially when fire takes hold quickly.
"The loss to property and life is obviously important but people do forget that the animals are abundant in forests and when it goes through it hurts all of them."
The animals need to be cared for and released quickly, before becoming dependent on humans. But often there is nowhere for them to go because the land is burnt out.
WIRES has 2000 volunteers on stand-by to look after rescued wildlife. Ms Pinner became involved six years ago and has nursed birds, gliders, possums, reptiles, snakes, kangaroos and wombats.
"I've just always loved animals but it's hard to say bye sometimes," she said.