A WOMAN who lost her daughter, son-in-law and grandson in Australian bush fires has written a book on grief which is being used to help survivors of other disasters.

Vicky Evans, 72, who this week returned to her roots in Pleasington for the first time in 14 years, emigrated from the UK in 1970 and settled in Melbourne.

Her eldest daughter, Sue, lived in the idyllic and remote village of Strathewan, on the hills outside Melbourne, where she ran a pet shop with her partner Bob.

But their lives, and that of their 18-year-old son John and two of his friends, were taken when a fireball engulfed their home in February 2009.

Vicky, who works for the Australian blood service, said she could see the smoke from the fires that day.

She said: “It quickly became apparent that the situation was very serious but I didn’t hear news about my family for almost two days.

“Their home was destroyed and they weren’t able to escape. The village is very remote with only one road.

“Our family was then left in limbo as their remains weren’t released to us for almost three months.”

In all, 173 people died in the fires, including 27 from Strathewan, which only had a population of 200.

Vicky said her way of dealing with the loss of several loved ones was to keep busy.

“I had to keep myself occupied,” she said.

“By the summer of last year, myself and others who were affected in a similar way realised there was no literature on the subject of multiple grief and decided to put something together.”

The result is the book Surviving Traumatic Grief, of which 5,000 copies have been published. More than 1,000 were sent earlier this year to people affected by the Brisbane floods and New Zealand earthquake.

“The feedback has been overwhelming with untold people telling us how it has helped them,” she said.

Vicky is staying for the next week with her cousin Greta Carus at her home in Woodcock Hill Road, Pleasington, where a gathering for all her Lancastrian relatives is being held next week.

Greta, 76, said: “What Vicky has been through is unimaginable and all our family here were horrified at the news.

“But we’re ever so proud of the work she has done to help others and the book is a great achievement.”