Victorian Bush Fires : 2009
This weekend was horrible.
I think the biggest thing that got me was the contrast. On Saturday we had our shade cloth up outside, we even went to the beach in the morning. It was horribly windy. We got home and sat in a house with an adverage air-conditioner. I got addicted to listening to the updates on 774 ABC Melbourne, if I went for a drive I’d stay in the car for ten minutes just listening. Updates on some fires that had started, warnings for areas (some I had heard of, some I hadn’t). The coverage was unreal.
At about 4.30pm the change came through Geelong. It took at least 10 degrees off the temperature. What was the hottest day in Victoria on record, reaching 46 in Geelong (and 47.9 at Avalon, winds of up to 100 kph) was now just any ordinary hot day. From where we were, anyway.
Things seemed like they were on the up. But they weren’t. At that stage there were less than 10 casualities. By the 10.30pm it was 20 degrees with no wind in Drysdale, and they were saying that 30 people had died. It was shocking. I didn’t know what to think, look outside and its calm and cool. Other places it was mayhem.
We woke on a slightly windy, overcast Sunday to find the death toll was up to 50. By afternoon it was 70. The lives claimed by these devistating fires was steadly rising – as the fires were contained firefighters could get in and look at the ashes and find more people. People who either decided to stay and fight the fires from getting to their house, or people who waited too long to get out, and were surrounded…
Saturday night my wife’s parents rang up some relatives, one family (My father-in-laws sister) lived near Kinglake and the other (my father-in-laws brother) at Camperdown. Lake Corrangamite saved the Camperdown residents, because the fire couldn’t burn across the dust bowl that before drough was Lake Corrangamite. The family in Kinglake were the only house left standing in their area, it had burnt down their neighbours property – one family was inside at the time. They were staying up all night on watch, taking it in turns incase something bad happened.
Today. Monday. Cool. Slight breeze. And as I sit looking out the window there is just short of 110 people dead. All dead because of bush fire. I don’t know what to say, the contrast is just quiet unsettling. I am sitting here trying to work, while people are dying.
I don’t know what to feel. But I know that I do feel sad.