Alain’s lonely search for items from life full of adventure
ALAIN Bourzali still visits the house he lost in the Stanthorpe bushfire last September.
Every two weeks, he drives up the hill on Caves Road, past the charred boulders and the shades of green shooting up through the blackened bushland around him.
The 80-year-old Frenchman sifts through the rubble - a combination of shattered bricks, broken glass and scorched corrugated iron - looking for memorabilia from his days as a diver for Jacques Cousteau and medals he won at various shooting competitions.
His home of 32 years now lays in ruin. Completely destroyed by the blaze that was started by backpackers on a quiet road on the outskirts of Stanthorpe on September 6.
Mr Bourazali and his wife Agnes have since moved into a new home, purchased in part with the proceeds donated by the community.
But Agnes still cries at the thought of what the couple lost. She can't bring herself to return to the property and often naps for long parts of the day to deal with the stress, Mr Bourazali said.
"I just think she's so sad still," Mr Bourzali said.
"I'm not sure what's wrong with her. She sleeps a lot more now."
Last week, Mr Bourzali visited his old home.
Wobbly on his feet at times, he managed to find what was left of his dumbbell set and Mrs Bourzali's fire-ravaged exercise bike.
"I'm 50-50 - It's hard," he said.
"Everything we lost - it's terrible. We try to find my medals and lost property. I lost 121 medals and we've found about 20."
The fire was started by backpackers who lit a barbecue during a total fire ban, police said.
Police opted not to lay charges.
The bushfire was unforgiving and took with it more than $30,000 in cash the couple had saved.
It also incinerated Alan's prized deep sea diving equipment from 1956 and 1957, when he had been a diver for French explorer Jacques Cousteau.
All of his heirlooms from a storied life as a shooter, a federal police officer and a serviceman are gone as well.