Amidst the tragedy of the Black Saturday fire in which so many Kinglake people died, there is a speckle of dark local humour.
Locals smile at how Ashley Geelan, at every opportunity, describes himself as a local hero, with details of how he saved lives and buildings in the 2009 tragedy.
One of the Kinglake Ranges, Castella & Toolangi Community Facebook Group administrators this month (15/10/2019) described it this way:
“I don’t think I’m alone but I’m so sick of the self-indulgent dribble being posted. Should Ashlee (I’m a hero just ask me) be removed from the group.”
By the way, 61 people agreed, 9 joked that they would contribute towards a hit man, and there were 8 other responses.
Interestingly, Geelan also describes himself as the hero of another fire.
This time in Whittlesea (20/08/2018).
The story became big news at Geelan’s Kinglake Ranges News blog.
”On Monday, August 20 a Whittlesea house fire started in the lounge room roof. The smoke alarm did not sound until it was too late as the tiled roof began collapsing.”
“Black acrid smoke was seen throughout Whittlesea.”
The spotlight turns to Ashley Geelan in a pathetic attempt at “journalism” where the reporter becomes the story.
“Within seconds of the smoke alarm sounding the lounge room was ablaze as the roof collapsed onto a couch. Despite Geelan’s best efforts the fire took hold within seconds and there was nothing Geelan could do.”
It turns out that the leased property was that of Geelan’s common law wife; and that Geelan had been inside the roof earlier.
”Whilst running television and radio communications cables in the roof Geelan had noticed and removed some insulation ‘pink batts’ that showed evidence of burning from being too close to low-voltage down lights that create heat in the transformers,” said the report at Geelan’s website.
“Most of the house was destroyed with only items in the bathroom and rear of the home surviving. What the fire didn’t get was soon water or soot damaged.
“As a former Country Fire Authority volunteer (Eltham 1994 – 2000) Geelan shouldn’t have gone back inside the home without building fire turn-out gear (PPE), a charged canvas 38mm fire hose, a rope trace line and breathing apparatus.
The report was supposed to have been penned by an independent third person, then mid-sentence, the Ashley Geelan story takes over as author; there’s no explanation of how the author fits in the story, and no disclaimer of the author’s conflict of interest.
“Adrenalin took over and Geelan went in anyway.
“Later Geelan was taken to hospital after suffering mild burns taking in too much carbon monoxide to my bloodstream from breathing the toxic smoke.
“Radio communications and computer equipment that Geelan used to keep police and fire on air during Black Saturday were destroyed.
“Due to asphyxiation and possible carbon monoxide poisoning Barbara Kress and Geelan were taken to the Northern Hospital for oxygen and observation, before detectives took all of our clothes – yes all – for forensic testing.
“The clothes were returned, no evidence of arson was found and our clothes were returned last Thursday, September 27. No charges were laid.
“Geelan lost nothing on Black Saturday, but helped others.
‘This reporter always has – and always will – put people’s safety and well-being before filing reports. It was rather disappointing to see so many capable people standing around filming on phones and posting to face(less)book rather than helping out. I’m a reporter and photographer, but if I see someone who requires first aid or needs assistance, then fuck the camera, news reporting and taking photos of it, administer first aid and help first. Report later.”
Geelan’s efforts were never reported to any authority with the recommendation of a hero’s medallion for valour.
However, Ashley Geelan did use the incident to unsuccessfully attempt to persuade La Trobe University authorities to give the 40-year-old student extra time for his overdue assignments.
Is Geelan a hero? Not in this life time.
Is Geelan a professional victim? Indeed.
Is Geelan a pathological liar? Absolutely.
Is Geelan responsible for burning down the former Whittlesea home of his common law wife? It’s very possible.