Beloved San Diego Native Killed In Australian Fires - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Beloved San Diego Native Killed In Australian Fires

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Australia's prime minister says there will be a national day of mourning for the nearly 200 people killed in a firestorm there. Among them, a former La Mesa resident killed along with his wife in one of the wildfires.

Those closest to 61-year-old David Lee Holcombe say the San Diego native loved camping, hiking, music, literature and most of all, his family. The Helix High School and San Diego State graduate died in the devastating southeastern Australian wildfires last Saturday, along with his wife Carol.

The veteran school teachers lived in Kinglake, a small mountain town in the state of Victoria surrounded by a national forest, which was razed by the blazes.

Relatives say the pair took fire protection measures, which included a full-size fire hose and three water tanks on their property.

The couple's three children, 27-year-old Ella and 23-year-old twins Patrick and Eugene were on their way home, but were turned back because of the dangerous conditions. They were, however, able to speak to their parents earlier in the day until winds shifted the fire and communications were lost.

David Holcombe's love affair with Australia began in the early 1970s when he went down under to teach for what he thought would be a year. He first fell in love with the country, and then with Carol Crosbie, a fellow educator who shared his love for nature and who he eventually married.

They built a beautiful home from salvaged timber, reclaimed windows and mud bricks they made themselves. The couple even constructed a shed to live in while their dream home was going up.

As he settled into semi-retirement, David Holcombe spent plenty of time with the family dog Brittany, who also enjoyed her master's art pieces. After a long day of teaching, Carol Holcombe tended to a garden filled with daffodils. Unfortunately, the fire not only claimed the couple, but also their gorgeous home and garden which was admired by so many.

Besides his three children, David Holcombe is survived by three sisters, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles.

Family members are trying to put together plans for a local memorial.

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