By Bill Shields

MILLIS (CBS) – A recent Millis High School graduate decided to spend her gap year in Australia and it’s not turning out the way she had expected. Sara arrived in September, just as the wildfires were starting. But by Christmas, eastern Australia was in flames, the skies turning orange and brown.

To date, 27 people have died, thousands of homes have been destroyed, and an estimated one billion animals have perished.

Despite the catastrophe, Sara has fallen in love with Australia, the people and the animals. On one trip down the coast, she came to the aid of a group of wallabies. One of them got pretty close to her.

“He kind of walked right up to us when he saw that we had food. I guess he was extremely hungry if he was just willing to come that close to a human,” she told WBZ-TV.

In the past few days rain has helped knock down some of the fires, and boosted peoples’ spirits. Sara is hopeful too that the worst is over.

“The hardest one to deal with, in my opinion, besides the smoke, has been seeing the animals and then hearing stories of the firefighters saying they’ll never get the sound of the koalas screaming out of their heads. That was just pretty tough as well,” she said.

Sara will be in Australia for at least another six months and when she does get home to Millis, she will have memories that will never fade.

Bill Shields

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