Sunday, 8 February 2009
A State on Fire
This was the day we've dreaded every year, finally it happened. The temperature reached 46 deg, 47 in some areas, that's 115 - 116 deg F. We had three days in a row the previous week over 43 deg but there was no wind. Yesterday was very different. We have been going through a very severe drought, every thing is tinder dry. From early in the morning the temperature climbed, by 11.30 in the morning it was 42 deg under our front verandah. Then the wind started, we'd been warned across the state that this was going to be the worst day for fire conditions since ash Wednesday in 1983. That was an understatement. We were told there would be a cool change later that evening.
The first report came in that a fire that had been burning all week in Gippsland, in the east had broken the containment lines, shortly after another fire in the region was blazing out of control. Winds were raging between 60 and 90 kph. Next a fire at Horsham in the west of the state. Within a couple of hours there were so many fires blazing across the state, it was impossible to control any of them. We live in one of the worst bush fire areas in Australia so you can imagine our apprehension. It was a very, very long day. We had a fire near us (last photo) where four houses were lost, normally this would be headline news. It hardly got a mention as there was so much devastation everywhere. The photo shows one of two helicopters that kept picking up water from a nearby lake and dropping it on the fire. They did a tireless job. The fire went right through the night. The top photo shows one of two towns that were totally destroyed, the whole town was gone in such a short time.
We finally had a cool change dropping the temperature to the high 20's, some areas including ours had a shower of rain. Today Sunday the temperature is much more pleasant, but unfortunately the fires are still burning out of control with no sign of abating. The very sad thing is at least 36 people have lost their lives, they expect that figure to rise and hundreds of homes have been lost, 500 alone in one area. The animal and bird population has suffered badly too.
It takes an event like this to make everyone realize what a great country we live in, the number of volunteers who go out and risk their own lives to save others. People volunteering all over the state, offering help to those who've lost homes, to look after animals, to donate anything and everything. Despite everything mother nature throws at us, we really are the lucky country.