Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Australia Bushfires

By now most people will have learned of the tragic events of last Saturday in Australia. Over the course of a few hours, over 300,000 hectares of land was destroyed, 10001831 houses were burned down, an estimated 200 to 300 people were killed and 5000 were left homeless. The state affected was my home state of Victoria, and many of the places destroyed we have visited in the past, including the tourist town of Marysville, which is was just a couple of hours scenic drive from our previous home in Nunawading. It used to be one of my favorite day trip destinations. Fortunately I don't have any friends or family that were directly affected, as far as I know, although I did make a call to a couple in Bendigo we know, who were ok.
It is a strange feeling being overseas while all this happened. I didn't find out until Sunday night when my mum called to give me the news. Being so disconnected from the events despite the amazingly comprehensive online coverage yields a sense of unreality to it all.
The reason for such utter destruction was an unusual confluence of circumstances. The previous week, the state of Victoria had been subject to a heatwave with temperatures soaring to 43 to 44 deg. C in Melbourne. (109.4 to 111.2F). Then on the day the fires happened, the temperature reached a never before recorded 46.4C (115.5F) along with gale force winds. In Kinglake, one of the worst hit areas, a house surrounded by 16 hectares of almost completely bare paddock burned down, killing the two occupants even though they were actively trying to save the house, with working pumps connected to a full dam. Survivors describe the locations near the bushfire fronts as raining embers.

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.


At 4:00 PM , Blogger Zak said...

Here in the Selkirk Mountains of Western Canada, there is annual threat of bush fires.

My deep sympathy goes to the families who lost loved ones or were rendered homeless.

I'm studying the most I can on the topic so that if I'm placed in the same situation, I'll be able to make better decisions.


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