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Monday, February 09, 2009


The Fires From Space

The sun in New Zealand, veiled by the some of the Victorian Black Saturday fires (picture, Tony Travaglia, Otago, NZ).

It was Sunday afternoon when Mum rang me, asking if our Victorian family members was okay. At the time, I hadn't heard the news, we had been huddling in the house to avoid the effects of the record heatwave, and I assumed she was asking how the heatwave was affecting the Melbourne clan, especially as SurferFamily has no airconditioning. I assured Mum all was okay and went back to the mundanities of washing up.

Then the Bettdeckererschnappender weisle came home, saying that bushfires had it Victoria and it was worse than Ash Wedensday. While BEW hunted out a TV channel, and I hit the online news. The news was worse than we feared. Having lived in Victoria, it was a shock to see places that we knew (we used to go to the ST. Andrews Markets for example) turned to ash. The BEW used to work in the area, it has been a very upsetting time.

The tragedy is all the more poweful as these areas are bushfire vetrans. Almost everyone was prepared for fire, and extra fire fighters were on duty. But no one was prepared for the savagery of the the firestorm (and we are used to bad bush fires). People who had taken all the right precautions, talked of the firstorms blasting into their houses and literally exploding their rooms.

We have been very lucky, none of our friends and relative have lost their lives, and our hearts go out to the families of those who have lost friends and loved ones. One of our family friends did lose their home and all their possession, but they have their lives, and the ability to start over.

Just a reminder, the Red Cross is accepting donations to provide disater relief in Victoria.

And the view from space? Here is the NASA earth observatory image (ironically, this page says "more than 30 people", currently the death toll stands at around 134). The bushfires aren't over yet, and with more heat coming, there is the possibility of worse to come. You can keep track of the south east Australian fires using the images produced by the Modis Rapid Response team.

If that is not enough, Northen Australia is suffering from severe flooding.

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Because of the 45 degree heat & 70 km/hr winds we stayed indoors with curtains shut & air-conditioning running. Watched the 6 pm national news on TV & thought how lucky we were in Bendigo not to have a fire. Just before the news finished the power went out. I opened a curtain to let in light & saw huge black smoke clouds. I rushed outside to see our northern horizon filled with billowing smoke clouds from burning fires. To the NE central Bendigo was under the black smoke cloud with a lighter smoke haze on Bendigo it self. The hot winds were coming from the NNW, directing the fire path towards central Bendigo. It looked like all hell was about to break loose on the northern half of the suburb I live in. When at about 6:40 pm a cooler SW wind change arrived. For about 10 minutes the winds from the SW were quite strong before dying down. If the wind change hadn't come when it did and then dying down quickly then the lose of life & property would have been much greater than the 2 dead, 57 houses, 115 out buildings destroyed and 1200 ha burnt.

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