Mayors mark 20 year anniversary
AN EMOTIONAL Bundaberg Mayor Jack Dempsey, Deputy Mayor Bill Trevor and council chief executive Steve Johnston laid a wreath yesterday to mark the 20th anniversary of the Childers Palace Backpackers Hostel fire.
Former Isis Shire Council mayor Cr Trevor said he began getting messages as early as 1.25am yesterday from one of the survivors in Ireland.
"It's a very sad day for me," he said.
"We thought Childers was a safe town, a small rural town, we never expected anything like a fire here deliberately set by a maniac that murdered 15 young people in their bed.
"It was my fear that the kids would want to get clothes on their back and just bolt from the place, never to come back and that we'd be remembered as the place where that terrible thing happened.
"It's been the exact opposite - the bond that has been formed between community members, survivors and families around the world has been one that's strengthened over the years."
Cr Dempsey said the fire changed legislation around fire regulations and building codes.
"Fifteen innocent lives were taken, 70 survivors are traumatically affected for the rest of their lives and many hundreds of families, loved ones, friends and community members … have been impacted," he said.
"One of the great strengths that came out of this adversity and tragedy is the undying bond this community has for the 15 that passed away."