HOUSE fire survivor Peter Bentley is pleading for somewhere to stay.
HOUSE fire survivor Peter Bentley is pleading for somewhere to stay.

Fire victim left in the cold

FORMER Ecotourism advocate Peter Bentley has been living closer to nature than he ever intended after an old farmhouse he was sharing at Bilambil burnt down earlier this month.

Mr Bentley and his housemate, Doug Ogilvie, survived the blaze but lost nearly all their belongings.

Mr Bentley had been living at the homestead to be closer to medical help during his battle with prostate cancer after moving from the Murwillumbah hinterland.

Now recuperating from burns he suffered in the blaze, he has been living in a shed off Urliup Road, outside Murwillumbah.

The shed does not have running water, sewerage or electricity.

He has been searching for more comfortable accommodation, but has discovered it to be hard to find in the Tweed region.

“I hope I'm winning the health battle,” said Mr Bentley, who founded the Northern NSW Ecotourism Association in the 1990s.

“I've been largely trying to go the natural medicine way with the advice of the Southern Cross University Natural Medicine Clinic.

“My PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) had gone right down but since the fire it's gone straight up.

“I keep looking for accommodation; I keep asking, but I'm strapped. However, I can try to do things in return.”

Mr Bentley said what had hurt most about his losses in the blaze was the loss of paperwork from the Ecotourism Association and his plans for an information service called 'Islands of Peace', promoting peace-enhancing, getaway holiday locations.

Mr Bentley said many people had helped him since the blaze and he was sincerely grateful.

“I was in a Lifeline shop and one youngster came and said he had read what happened and gave me ten dollars.

“Others have helped with food; Casuarina (township developer Don O'Rorke) gave me a couple of night's accommodation and Phil Taylor (Murwillumbah car dealer) has helped of course.

Mr Taylor on Wednesday handed over a used Honda Civic to replace the old Falcon he had previously sold Mr Bentley but which was damaged in the blaze.

Anyone who can help out can leave a message for Mr Bentley, who has no phone, with the Tweed Daily News by calling (02) 6672 1833.

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