FRIENDS and relatives of the 11 elderly people who perished in in a nursing home fire have gathered in Sydney’s west to mark the first anniversary of their deaths.
A CEREMONY HAS BEEN HELD IN SYDNEY TO MARK A YEAR SINCE 11 PEOPLE DIED IN A NURSING HOME FIRE. AAP
Three elderly residents died during the inferno and a further eight died from injuries afterwards.
About 100 victims, relatives and rescuers involved in the Quakers Hill Nursing Home blaze gathered for a memorial service at a local Anglican church on Sunday.
The multi-denomination service started at 6am (AEDT) to mark the moment the final survivor was brought out of the burning building on November 18 last year.
Chantelle Kelly, whose grandfather was badly injured in the blaze, said the pain had continued for those who were left behind.
“One of the biggest struggles in this experience has been coming to terms with the loss of life on that day,” she told the service.
“My grandfather just kept saying, ‘I miss my friend.'”
The churchgoers then paused to remember those who died and to relive the scenes of devastation.
The Reverend Geoff Bates, who led the service of about 100 people, said the impacts of the blaze had been far reaching.
Outside the church, he said the fire had had a devastating impact on a great number of people.
“There are people who are still in hospital, there are people who have had their life shortened because of it, people have lost their jobs because the nursing home no longer exists, they have lost family and friends,” he told Macquarie Radio.
“Where do we start? It’s huge.”
Parishoners from the Anglican church were among the first to offer help on the day of the tragedy, with the church itself transformed into an evacuation centre.
The nursing home residents were covered in soot, disorientated, and often in pain when they were evacuated from the burning building.
They were fed, kept warm and comforted in the church before being moved to hospitals or other nursing homes around Sydney.
Roger Dean, who worked as a nurse at the home, has pleaded not guilty to murdering the 11 people who died in the fire.
Dean has also pleaded not guilty to eight charges of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm to a further eight residents.