Why the Australian Fires Hit So Close to Home for Keith Urban

When the bushfires in Australia started gaining terrifying momentum at the end of 2019, Keith Urban was one of the first to speak out.

Shortly after the first of this new year, he donated $500,000 to a fund set up to help the firefighters, sharing with his fans and followers that he was supporting the ones “who are all doing and giving so much right now.”

Urban was born in New Zealand, but was raised in Australia. So he’s no stranger to the official fire season, which in 2019 began in late July during the hot, dry weather. (According to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, the 2019 spring was the driest on record, and in December some parts of the country were coping with temperatures of up to 120 degrees.)

In New South Wales alone, more than 1,300 houses have been destroyed due to the current fires. And that likely brings Urban back to the 1977 fire that tore through his family’s own home.

Urban talked with CNN in 2010 about that devastating fire that happened when he was just 10 years old.

“When I first moved to Nashville 18 years ago (in 1992), I didn’t have anything. I had one guitar, and I had some clothing, but I didn’t have a lot of stuff. After our own family went through a house fire — when I was 10, our house burnt down — so I’ve experienced first-hand what it’s like to lose all that sort of thing,” Urban said at the time.

“I mean, our whole house went down. Everything we owned went with it. Fortunately, my mom, and my dad, and my brother and I were OK, but in that moment, organizations like the Salvation Army, Red Cross and Goodwill all came to our aid, as did the people in our community.

“It was amazing at that age, at 10, to see that kind of instant support, and for no other reason than just a neighbor helping a neighbor,” he said. “It really affected me.”

To donate to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, click here.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She’s based in Chicago, but she’s always leaving her heart in Nashville.