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The Worst Bushfire in Australian History

Fire fighters are confronted by a wall of flames.

Fire fighters are confronted by a wall of flames.

Following some enquiries from my international friends, I thought I should write a brief post on the current bushfire crisis here in Australia. Living in the state of New South Wales, north of Sydney, I am way clear of the epicentre which is some 800 kilometres away in the southern state of Victoria (and just over the northern border with NSW) – although a fire did break out yesterday at a place called Peats Ridge, an area only 15 kilometres away from where I live. Luckily, it was a small blaze and quickly contained.

But this is the reality of summer in Australia. I cannot remember a year when we did not have a bushfire. Of course, none in recent memory come close to the current devastation in Victoria that, at last count, had claimed 126 lives – the worst loss of life from bushfires in Australia’s short history. But I have experienced in past years the blanket of smoke from fires here in NSW that inevitably cloud the skies, turning the sun a bright red. And once again, the issue has also been raised as to whether the majority of the fires resulted from arson – an act that our Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd stated was akin to “mass murder”. For once, he is right about that.

Horror stories have begun to emerge of towns in our southern state being obliterated in a matter of minutes by a firestorm exacerbated by hot, dry temperatures (47 degrees Celsius at some locations) and strong winds. Many lost their lives trying to flee in their cars, becoming trapped on roads with nowhere to go. My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones and indeed everything they own. And let’s not forget the hundreds of volunteer fire-fighters who risk their lives to battle the blazes, and the countless other community volunteers giving their time to people in need.

For more on the Victorian fires, visit http://ninemsn.com.au and view the multitude video footage of this horrendous event.

Large smoke cloud obscures the trees.

Large smoke cloud obscures the trees.

A local resident against the striking light of the fires.

A local resident against the striking light of the fires.

Burnt-out car is left behind when the flames die down.

Burnt-out car is left behind when the flames die down.

Images by Google


Comments are disallowed for this post.

  1. That looks completely terrifying.

    Like a volcanic explosion.

    God bless the people caught in that inferno.

    Posted by Bill Donovan | February 8, 2009, 10:52 pm
  2. Oh Manz, that looks horrific. Glad you are well away from the blaze and hope that you will stay safe. Our thoughts are with all of you in Australia.

    Posted by Carolina | February 9, 2009, 12:10 am
  3. Just read about that on yahoo. Think the number is 130 now.

    Posted by Mr. Usability | February 9, 2009, 1:30 am
  4. you guys are hardcore

    Posted by deryke | February 9, 2009, 1:32 am
  5. It does look terrifying and horrific… not wrong there Bill and Carolina.

    I was out of my seat when the fire trucks went past yesterday! The “heroes” put that one out fast though. Today was alot cooler, however I was still checking the property for piles of dry leaves… something that should have been done at the start of the week! All safe here now. Touch wood. Plenty of it around me.

    To “Mr. Usability” (Hi Rob)… I think you’re right. Thanks for the visit.

    To everyone…
    While whatching the latest news (it’s all that was on the local tv), I saw a family being interviewed who were alive due to a concrete bunker the wife had the hubby build! So, anyone thinking about building a bunker, for whatever reason, there’s your proof it’s not just an act of a paraniod mind… who knows what it might save you from 😉

    To Deryke – please explain? (ever heard of Pauline Hanson?) Do you mean the “attitude” I demonstrated in the post? The actions of the fire fighters? The extreme weather we have here – floods and fires? What’s hardcore?

    Posted by Manz | February 9, 2009, 2:37 am
  6. Thanks for the visit and the comment. Yes, I’m auto-posting in less than three hours ….

    Posted by david mcmahon | February 9, 2009, 5:14 am
  7. May God bless and keep them all safe.

    Posted by Lady Bee ♥ | February 9, 2009, 6:46 am
  8. Something beautiful about natural disasters, spectacular photos here
    May God be with you all

    Posted by Shea | February 9, 2009, 12:32 pm
  9. all of it.

    its intense!

    Posted by deryke | February 9, 2009, 1:58 pm
  10. Pauline Hanson

    i just read the wiki…

    Posted by deryke | February 9, 2009, 2:04 pm
  11. Shock and horror! 47 degree?! I can’t imagine that kind of warm… Is warm in Romania too, but more than 41-43 it wasn’t here! From where fire start’s?! I can’t imagine a pearson starting a fire in the open field or near by a forest at those 47 degrees! God help Australia…! Bell

    Posted by Bell | February 9, 2009, 7:33 pm
  12. Great selection of pics, Manz…
    I believe the death toll is now over 150, with authorities saying that the number could increase to over 200.
    Just horrible….and arson is definitely the cause of some of the fires. F#@king bastards!

    Posted by Max Drake | February 9, 2009, 10:17 pm
  13. it’s always arson here.

    people are mean. don’t like the trees, i guess. sounds mean to me.

    when people find arsonists here, you find much of the arsonists after wards.

    Posted by deryke | February 10, 2009, 3:28 am
  14. BTW pauline hanson HA!

    ever hear of STROM THURMAN!

    … you WISH she was evil !

    hehehehehe wiki THAT!

    Posted by deryke | February 10, 2009, 3:31 am
  15. All the past years we are hearing this mishap. But is it not possible to control it by some alarms to detect the smoke, before it get transforms into wild fire?

    Posted by Sunu | February 10, 2009, 5:42 am
  16. Oooh… That’s bad.
    I really hope everything will be ok when I touch down in Melbourne next week…

    I was so hoping that my trip will be great but I keep hearing bad news. First was the heatwave, now’s the bushfire.. I really hope things will get better..and hopefully no more deaths in the country.

    Posted by Cashmere | February 10, 2009, 8:33 am
  17. Glad to hear your safe from that. I hope they catch the bastard responsible…I don’t think we ever do catch them here in California when they light things up. Terrible.

    Posted by Wayne | February 10, 2009, 2:34 pm

    Update time…
    For more photos, which have been taken by a local (david mcmahon) check out http://david-mcmahon.blogspot.com/. David has images ranging from the illuminated clouds, burnt-out bush and the heli-tanker “Elvis”. Thanks for dropping by David.


    Some of the latest news that I’d like to share:
    1. over a million animals have perished in the fires! Others are bing treated for burns – especially to their feet from trying to walk out of the hot zones. Kudos to all the volunteers in Vic helping these little ones recover.

    2. Loss of ID is causing problems with accessing bank accounts and funds!! Leaving their homes without even a walet (that’s how fast some peopel had to move) now leaves many with ID problems. This shows how our “modern/improved” systems fail us yet again. I remember 15+ years ago when the bank held a copy of your signature at your branch. Go to renew a card, or withdraw funds over the counter and they would retrieve your card to check your John Hancock. Maybe that system should have been retained as a back-up to the wonders of todays technology!


    Replies to comments…
    @ Lady Bee + Shea – thanks for the sentiments. Shea, If only it was a natural disaster, and not fueled by arson! Fires are a natural way for the Aussie bush to replenish, but not this kind of fire!!

    @ Deryke – I have to go look up STROM THURMAN now… you’ve peaked my curisoity! I’m also curious about what wiki says about Pauline Hanson… she’s a political joke here – well, to most she is.

    @ Bell – thank you for your kind words in your lastest blog post. It’s nice to see a new reader on our blog. I just wish it was under other circumstances.

    @ Max, Deryke, and Wayne – yep… no better word decribes the culprits than “F*#KING BASTARDS”!! I think it is mean Deryke. Mean towards the trees, animals, and even the silly humans 😉 All just for a light show. That’s all they see.

    @ Sunu – Thanks for the visit and for your comment.
    Usually there would be time. But these fires burnt and moved faster than anything we’ve ever seen. The first thing rural folk are told, is to go back into their homes during a fire. They’re told that the fire will pass over, and even if the house catches, there will still be time to get out. But that wasn’t the case here.

    When you decide to live next to the bush, part of the decision is made with an acceptance that there is a risk of fire and loss of everything. Therefore there are “alarms” in place. Just didn’t cut it this time around. I think most are more shocked by the loss of life than material things.

    @ Cashmere – I’m sure that you will still enjoy your visit. The dynamic/mood may be a little different in places than the usual. But hey, that may not be a bad thing. I’ll head over to your blog to say a little more 😉

    @ Wayne – thanks for the concern buddy. I’m now sitting here with a blanket over me!

    @ Deryke + Wayne… let’s hope that the next time summer is upon California, that the season comes and goes without fires! I’d like to visit California – anyone want to offer their couch? Just let me know 😉

    Posted by Manz | February 12, 2009, 4:54 pm
  19. Sorry for the typos!!

    Posted by Manz | February 12, 2009, 4:55 pm
  20. My prayers are with all that are affected by the horror of the fires. I can’t imagine the fear these people have been through.

    Posted by Fun T-shirts | February 12, 2009, 11:56 pm

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