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Bushfires in AUS - helpless feeling being so far away

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Old 02-07-09, 09:00 PM
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Bushfires in AUS - helpless feeling being so far away

There are some very major fires in southern Australia at the moment in the state of Victoria. Possibly will rival the 1983 'Ash Wednesday' fires for deaths and damage.

This is my home town, but I'm living overseas and feel a bit helpless.

My mother has emailed to fill me in on some details, one sister called and I've been watching the news reports.

My eldest sister lives in a fire prone rural area and has evacuated with my niece, the dog and the important valuables (official papers, photos, memories). My niece had her 6th birthday party at the small town school during the week and just as my sister went to light the candles, all the kids said 'NO' - it was a day of 'total fire ban' in the state. Great to see the kids are getting the Smokey the Bear lessons etc! My brother in law has stayed behind to help protect the house - preparations were made months ago with cutting back and clearing of undergrowth near the house, repair of the eaves (common ignition point) and clearing of roof and gutters. He'll probably be running around the house now with a mop and bucket to put out the small wind born embers flying in from the fires a few km away.

My other sister is a paramedic. She is exhausted. Last week during a heat wave (3 days over 43degC, one over 45) she had four dead bodies in one night. The old, young and ill just can't handle it. The paramedics usually do about 100 jobs a night in the city. Last Thursday they had done 1000 by midnight. Last night my sister had to deal with a firefighter who was burned and then died.

What would I do if I were there? Probably nothing I could do. Maybe help my brother in law.

Will just have to watch the news and hope...
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Old 02-07-09, 09:01 PM
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my aussie cousins are freaking out
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Old 02-07-09, 09:26 PM
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Sorry to hear about this. Wildfires are nasty things. I used to work on an air tanker and it was always amazing to me how much power those fires had...
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Old 02-07-09, 10:21 PM
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I was evacuated from my house due to wildfire a few years back. First voluntarily, due to smoke, then "mandatory" because of the actual fire. I was in a rental, and there was lots of dry grasses around the house, and the forest was nearby. No way in hell was I staying.
.
I watched the fire leap 1/4 miles every 30 seconds, maybe even faster, as it came down the hill to a spot further up the valley.
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I wish them the best in Aus.
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Old 02-08-09, 10:48 PM
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Just spoke to my sister (the paramedic) and things have been really nasty. Death toll is 100+, two towns don't really exist anymore.

She told me that one town, Kinglake, has been closed off by the police and is basically being treated as a crime scene. The entire town has been pretty much destroyed. Many people died in the intense firestorm as it either overcame their fire-fighting plan (people set up pumps and a lot of gear) or it came too fast for the last minute escape. There are many burnt out cars on the roads, some with bodies inside. Those who did get out early can't go back in to find loved ones. The process of getting IDs on the bodies is going to take some time and the police have appealed for information on missing persons that might help ID the bodies (old scars, broken bones, artificial knee/hips etc).

She said it took two showers to get the smell out of her hair. She moved to another set of work boots yesterday as she couldn't get the smell of burnt flesh out of the other pair.

On a lighter note, she said the food being made at relief centres by the Red Cross ladies was brilliant! Even dessert.
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Old 02-09-09, 07:00 AM
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Its been absolutley shocking down here. I'm in the suburbs but even then the fires came so close to the outern Melbourne areas.

There has been constant TV and Radio coverage for the last days, with fire warnings and alerts. Already 131people have been found perished, expected to rise to 200 in the next few days.

It was an absolutley horrendous day on Saturday....gale force winds and 46.4C, combined with the fact that the state had no rain in the last 28days ment it was a fernace waiting to burste.

I'm extreemly sad and shocked, even though i havn't been affected, my thoughts go out to all the thousands who have lost their homes and loved ones. Absolutley horrific scenes. Words are the main large blazes that killed so many were the responsibilities of arsonists. Sickening.

Much respect for your sister JonnyHK and all the others involved in helping those in need.

Some pictures to put words into perspective:















Its not yet over, 100 New Zealand firefighters and many from interstate as well as backup firebombers and military trucks are being brought in to the hit regions.
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Old 02-09-09, 07:20 AM
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More horrific pics are just emerging:













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Old 02-09-09, 07:25 AM
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Best wishes to you Aussies. I awoke at 5:30AM today to the BBC interviewing an inconsolable woman who was sobbing that she had lost everything. How awful.

Now I'm reading the fires may have intentionally been set? If that's true... ...That's just crazy.
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Old 02-09-09, 08:48 AM
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speachless

just speachless
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Old 02-09-09, 08:57 AM
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Those pics are bringing back memories.
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Thats awful stuff.
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Old 02-09-09, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by vtjim View Post
Best wishes to you Aussies. I awoke at 5:30AM today to the BBC interviewing an inconsolable woman who was sobbing that she had lost everything. How awful.

Now I'm reading the fires may have intentionally been set? If that's true... ...That's just crazy.
Some have been deliberately lit, some natural. Some that had been contained have restarted, which can be natural, but some were re-lit.

Cops are intending to charge arsonists with manslaughter or murder, depending on evidence.

My sister has called me every couple of days and I think it is part of her coping mechanism. We used to share a house and I've heard plenty of gross stories over the years.

The other paramedic that she was teamed with on Saturday lived in Kinglake and his house is the only one left standing in the street, but is badly damaged. He was at work, stuck because of road blocks, while his wife phoned again and again. She made it out. The firefighter he and my sister were transporting to hospital died, as did the wife and son (also a firefighter) in separate incidents.
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Old 02-09-09, 05:45 PM
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Do any of you know Rowan, my husband, who posts here?

He lived near Marysville (between Taggerty and Buxton), in an area that was badly hit by the fires (The Murrindindi Mill fire). On the evening that the ember bombardment started, he was emailing me in between trying to save the settlement (basically a collection of cabins) where he lived, and then finally emailed me that he had to go. He evacuated to Alexandra, where he has been since then.

While there, he emailed me to describe his last few minutes on the property ...


"It was just the speed of this fire and the spot-firing ahead of the front that took me by surprise. One moment there was nothing but a distant roar and huge palls of smoke, and the next minute the vegtatation between the driveway and fenceline was alight -- about 50 metres long and burning fiercely. Then I was shocked to see the other fire on the other side of the property.

I could feel the heat from the front as I went inside the house, and I knew something wasn't qite right when I saw a red glow through the bedroom curtain and it wasn't the car headlights.

I knew when I saw the spot fire I had to go then, and foolishly left the front door of my place open. But the wind from the front was starting to take effect, and the sparks were flying onward toward the first, white house. I knew then there was absolutely no point in staying to defend. The roar and explosions of the treetops just confirmed that.

I decided that Right! Perry's car was there and I loaded up with the stuff up on the grass, went back for a quick check inside the house, and went."



Thank goodness for pocketmail because we have been able to keep in touch, but I've been worried sick all weekend. I couldn't even tell you what kind of weather we had here because I was glued to the computer.

From what we've heard, his place is completely and utterly gone. But I'm so relieved he got out alive.

But it's just devistating looking at the pictures and not even being able to recognize the places where I've been and where I've cycled. And it's heartbreaking to hear about all those who didn't make it.

Last edited by Machka; 02-09-09 at 05:50 PM.
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Old 02-09-09, 07:31 PM
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Arsonists should be charged with murder, or attempted murder, for EACH person who perished in a fire that was created by them. If not, there WILL be public outrage. I beleive after the Prime Minister and Premier visited the regions they too agreed that the aronists responsible will be charged with murder.

Updated death toll at 174 .
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Old 02-09-09, 07:48 PM
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Some good pictures.

I wish I could say that the news of arsonists possibly being to blame for some of these fires is "unfathomable."

I agree, blue_neon. Murder, plain and simple.
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Old 02-09-09, 08:48 PM
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I feel like every time I look, the fires in Rowan's area have flared again. I do feel very helpless being so far away.
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Old 02-10-09, 09:01 AM
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I was gonna compare this to fires out in CA where my parents live. But there is no comparison
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Old 02-10-09, 10:04 AM
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My thoughts to you folks going through this. I hope they find the arsonists responsible.
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Old 02-10-09, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by blue_neon View Post
Arsonists should be charged with murder, or attempted murder, for EACH person who perished in a fire that was created by them. If not, there WILL be public outrage. I beleive after the Prime Minister and Premier visited the regions they too agreed that the aronists responsible will be charged with murder.

Updated death toll at 174 .
Wow - that is just awful!!
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Old 02-10-09, 05:20 PM
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Amid all the horror, they managed to find a nice little story to provide a little respite from all the bad news:

Koala rescued from Australia's wildfire wasteland

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Old 02-10-09, 05:22 PM
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Originally Posted by trsidn View Post
I was gonna compare this to fires out in CA where my parents live. But there is no comparison
I believe the Aussies are very well prepared for fire, but the combination of very high temperatures, drought, and high winds made for the worst possible situation. The conditions are never quite that extreme in California, although the Oakland firestorm in 1991 is notable for the number of deaths and houses destroyed.
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Old 02-10-09, 05:26 PM
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I have friends who live there and at last check the fires were 3.5 km from their small town and not changing position... firebreaks have been established and they are hopeful that the fire will run out of fuel and that the wind will not change.

Many people have evacuated, my friend sent his wife and baby daughter to safety and he is keeping an eye on things but is prepared to bail at a moment's notice.
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Old 02-10-09, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by carbonlife View Post
I believe the Aussies are very well prepared for fire, but the combination of very high temperatures, drought, and high winds made for the worst possible situation. The conditions are never quite that extreme in California, although the Oakland firestorm in 1991 is notable for the number of deaths and houses destroyed.
a death toll of 200+ is mind boggling.
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Old 02-10-09, 06:17 PM
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Today's news for Rowan's area ...

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2...11/2487934.htm
The Country Fire Authority (CFA) says a change in wind conditions has caused increased fire activity in the Yea-Murrindindi blaze burning north of Melbourne overnight.

The Yea-Murrindindi fire, burning near Alexandra north-east of Melbourne on the north-east front in the Blue Range and around the west side of the Black Range, is estimated to be around 100,000 hectares in size.

More containment lines are being established along the Whanregarwen Road from the Maroondah Highway to Molesworth, as well as along the power lines between Taggerty and Snobs Creek.



And also the information that the fire has razed over 3,000 kilometres and 900 homes across the state of Victoria. It is being ranked in the top 5 worst fires in the world over the past 150 years.
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Old 02-10-09, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
And also the information that the fire has razed over 3,000 kilometres and 900 homes across the state of Victoria. It is being ranked in the top 5 worst fires in the world over the past 150 years.
"Authorities confirmed 1033 houses or properties had been lost and bushfires had so far burnt 400,000 hectares."
http://www.theage.com.au/national/bu...0211-843i.html

The death count is now at 181, but they haven't even gotten into the area where Rowan lived, and many other areas ... and the fires are far from over.


Every time I look at the regularly updated list of active fires, or the news, they contain lists of places I've been ... beautiful places, places I loved, places I was looking forward to living near and to visiting again. And now they're gone.
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Old 02-10-09, 10:22 PM
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That wonderful picture of the koala - and the 'upbeat' news article - got me thinking a little more positively.

In 6-9 months time, those scenes of blackened trees and bare earth in the bushland will not be recognisable. The new growth, that is actually prompted by fire, will make the hills and forests a bright green. I've seen it before after fires and the change is remarkable - you actually think you must be standing in the wrong spot.
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