I am just wondering if anyone has been effected by the terrible Forest fires that have hit the state of Victoria in Australia.
I am based in Sydney myself and can only read in horror at some of the stories that have happened down there. NSW had small fires here and there, but nothing on the scale as Vic.
My thoughts go out to anyone that was affected.
I'm in Ringwood, a surburb of Melbourne which is quite a few km's away from the fires, although I could smell smoke the other night. My old town where I grew up was on high alert today as it was under ember attack, and had some fires very close to my old home. I haven't been directly affected but it's still frighteningly close to home.
I also wish well upon those who have been affected by this disaster
[ Edit: Edited on 09-Feb-2009, at 23:34 by Erik85 ]
I live at chirnside park, I knew some people just a few ks up the road near coldstream, they had to be evacuated on the weekend. The fire didn't actually get to them, and that's about as close to melbourne as it ever got. A few towns got compeletely wiped out, and it might take until this weekend before they can even reach some area.
That's crazy, I've been reading about it here. Apparently it's arson? whew I can't believe that. I mean over 170 people have died last I saw. to think that someone started the fires on purpose...scary.
It seems that some but not all of the fires were started deliberately. Lets hope the perpetrators are found.
We had some scary moments and from what I gather underestimated the dangers we faced in Hurstbridge, barely 10 kms from St Andrews where over 20 people died. The fire was sweeping like a tsunami through the nearby hills around King Lake, towards St Andrews when the cool change came. It stopped the fire from reaching the centre of St Andrews and heading further down towards Hurstbridge. But we never even heard a serious threat warning until later that night. We would have been out of there if we had even the slightest hint of threat! Well, there was a very ominous black cloud in the distance and the horrible smell of smoke, but those are somewhat normal in summers around here. This was devastation on an entirely different scale.
It's a lot safer around here now, even though fires are still burning nearby. The community we live in and the nearby communities are really hard hit though - so many people have lost friends and family. Everyone knows someone who has lost someone. And all these people are hurting for each other. All the shops I go into, the shop keepers seem so sad. We go to a market in St Andrews regularly and buy vegetables from a nice old Greek guy from King Lake. I don't know if he and his family are OK, but I'm scared they're not. Dozens of people died in King Lake trying to escape. Photos are being released of some of the dead and missing - among them faces I recognize from the train I catch into the city. One of the train drivers among them.
People are blaming all sorts of people for this at the moment; arsonists, politicians, environmentalists, pro-choice'ers - you name it. Arson may indeed be involved. This event occurred on what was the hottest day on record for Melbourne at 46.4 °C, after over a month of no rain, after a week with a record breaking heat wave (3xdays over 43 °C), and with some cruel and very strong northerly winds. In some parts of the states they had experienced record 12 days straight over 40 °C. Who is to blame for that? Is it normal? I don't know.. if it is, this kind of "normal" has not been seen in 150 years since record keeping began. But really, people are just looking for an explanation - something to rationalise the unexpected devastation. Anger often comes from sadness.
But, also from sadness comes a great compassion - and you can see this in bucket loads all through Australia right now. The nearby relief centre in Diamond Creek is choking with donated clothes, toiletries and so on for the homeless. A permanent traffic jam seems to have emerged there, as people are falling over themselves to bring whatever they can to help. We are a wealthy country and very fortunate to have so many generous people able to help out. I have stopped to think what it is like when disasters like this strike in the underdeveloped countries of the world - where responses are only at the most basic level if at all.
The weather is cool now, but fires are still raging - some uncontrolled. We can only hope some more serious rain will come before the next hot weather develops.
I'd like to also link out to this blog post from a firefighter who was battling the blaze in King Lake:
http://www.leishman.me/?p=423 . Reading will send shivers down your spine. He came out alive, but the imagery he conveys is simply horrendous.
To put things into perspective, a survivor said he heard a roar moving towards his house like a moving train, then the next second the house burst flames. Lucky he was outside gathering his stuff, otherwise he wouldn't even know what hit him.