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.
Images by Google