Vandals set fire to Buxton's RFS memorial playground

Picture: Councillor Matthew Deeth - Facebook
Picture: Councillor Matthew Deeth - Facebook

Vandals have 'desecrated' Buxton's firetruck memorial playground over the weekend.

The playground at Telopea Park was officially opened in December last year.

It was built to honour Horsley Park RFS firefighters Geoffrey Keaton and Andrew O'Dwyer who gave their lives to protect others during the devastating Green Wattle Creek bushfire.

Councillor Matthew Deeth took to Facebook last night to voice his opinion on the 'desecration' of the memorial.

"I was shocked and saddened to see the destruction of part of the Firetruck memorial in Telopea Park, Buxton tonight," he wrote.

Picture: Councillor Matthew Deeth - Facebook

Picture: Councillor Matthew Deeth - Facebook

"This playground was built by those that wanted to honour the memory of Andrew O'Dwyer and Geoffrey Keaton who sacrificed all to protect our community fighting the Green Wattle Creek fire in 2019.

"It sickens me to think that there are those in our community that would want to harm something that was so important to our community after the fires.

"I cannot understand why someone would want to destroy something that brought hope to so many and was a fitting way to honour the O'Dwyer and Keaton families.

"This is certainly a kick in the guts to not just the RFS but our whole community."

Late last year councillor Michael Banasik raised a notice of motion to create a public space surveillance policy.

He said that residents had raised concerns about vandalism at Buxton's new fire engine-themed playground, Appin skate park and the Warragamba All Abilities Play Space.

Cr Deeth told the Champion that he and Cr Banasik would seek, at next week's council meeting, to have CCTV installed at the memorial park.

He said council staff were already looking into how to repair the damaged play equipment.

"We need better solutions to deter people from causing damage like this," Cr Deeth said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was an "honour and privilege" to attend the opening last year.

He spoke of Melissa and Charlotte O'Dwyer (Andrew's wife and daughter) and Jess Hayes and Harvey Keaton (Geoffrey's partner and son) finding peace and joy in the new park at the time.

"There have been many moments of sadness in this past year and I hope that this is a day that might have a light of joy for you on this long road," Mr Morrison said.

"I hope you can look back on this as a day with some joy.

"This place will be a place of healing and of peace, of quiet reflection, but above all a place to play, a place for children like Charlotte and Harvey who have already given a strong seal of approval."

Camden Police Area Command Crime Manager Detective Chief Inspector Paul Albury said officers attended last night and were back again this morning canvassing the scene. He said crime scene officers would also attend this morning.

"Someone from the community knows who is responsible," he said.

"We are calling on people from Buxton to help us with our enquiries.

"Some names are circulating in the community. But we are calling upon witnesses to come forward.

"The memorial is an extremely significant part of the community. It is deeply troubling that anyone would want to damage part of the memorial. Please help the Police identify and take action against those person/s responsible."