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Community rallies behind injured firefighter

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The family of Ian Barnard, who was injured while fighting the fires which ravaged the Western Cape, says they are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and donations.

Stephanie Barnard said her husband Ian - a volunteer firefighter - is due for another skin graft today, after suffering third-degree burns in a Plettenberg Bay fire last week.

A fundraising campaign, which was started by his cousins Jaq and Jonny Kennedy on crowdfunding website You Caring, has raised about R20500.

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BRAVE: An injured Ian Barnard meets President Jacob Zuma during the president's visit to areas affected by the devastating fires last week. Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS

A statement on the site reports that Barnard was injured after taking off his own protective gear to throw over to fellow firefighter Bradley Richards, 24, who he also dragged away from the fire.

“This resulted in third-degree burns to his face and hands, serious enough to require treatment in the ICU for a number of days. Brad’s injuries were even more severe and tragically he lost his fight a few days later despite doctors best efforts to save his life.”

Stephanie said the incident happened on June 7, which is also the birthday of their two children Skyla, 3 and Jayden, 6.

Although Barnard was healing well and faster than expected physically, Stephanie said Bradley’s death was taking a toll on him emotionally.

“They were like brothers, they did everything together; that’s why they were at the fire together,” she said.

Stephen Ritky of the Plett South Fire Management Unit for which Bradley and Ian volunteered, said in tribute to the men they wanted to build well-managed, well-resourced fire management units, which were privately funded, similar to the National Sea Rescue Institute, which is also manned by volunteers.

Ritky said he was overwhelmed by the support of the public.

“We lost our primary vehicle but we were out 24 hours a day for the past seven days and that would not have been possible without the support of the community who brought food, drinks, water tanks on the backs of their cars. People have been phenomenal,” he said.

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