The backpackers building fully engulfed.
The backpackers building fully engulfed.

OUR SAY: One terrible night changed so many lives

THERE'S a strange feeling in Childers right now.

People live there now who did not experience the horror 20 years ago when the Palace Backpackers Hostel fire devastated the town.

There are kids growing up who weren't born when the tragedy unfolded.

Then there are people like Bill Trevor, Donna Duncan and Buck Gooden who remember that night all too well.

And there are people from all corners of the globe who carry with them the trauma of the night they fled for their lives, lost a mate, or lost a family member.

It was a night that put Childers on the map for all the wrong reasons.

For some in the township, life continues as usual.

Police and temporary mobile morgue container at the scene.
Police and temporary mobile morgue container at the scene.

For others, they think back to a night 20 years ago and mourn.

Others fear what might be if Robert Paul Long, the man who lit the fire, is granted parole after he recently became eligible.

It's a lot to deal with all at once.

On the front page of the Isis Town and Country newspaper that week, Ms Duncan remembers, was a flame.

The Olympic torch relay had just passed through the town for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

She still has a copy of the paper, printed a day before a very different type of flame would leave its mark on the town.

On the paper in pen, she has written "what a difference a day makes".

What a difference indeed - the loss of 15 people who would never return home.

Survivors of hostel fire comfort each other.
Survivors of hostel fire comfort each other.