Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Oh Australia...

Parts of Australia are on fire.

Entire families have perished trying to flee the flames.

The stories of death and devastation are made far worse by news that many of the fires were deliberately set.

I can only say to my readers down under that you are in my heart and please let us know if there is anything we can do.

Mercy.

2 comments:

mikeinportc said...

It is awful. The speed of the fires is horrificly amazing . I have serious doubts though , about the deliberately set part. Same thing happens here . Always seems to be a need to blame someone. Maybe it's easier than blaming our own damned foolishness in building as if it's not a fire zone , back in the Mother Country (UK), or the East coast .Wet places - "The Asbestos Forest", here in the NE. ( A bit harsh maybe , but ignoring it won't make it any better )

Evie said...

Thanks so much for thinking of us, Shark-fu. I don't think the full scale and impact of this tragedy has been well-reported in the American MSM, the full horror becomes much more obvious when you read the Australian newspapers.

"I have serious doubts though , about the deliberately set part. Same thing happens here . Always seems to be a need to blame someone. Maybe it's easier than blaming our own damned foolishness in building as if it's not a fire zone , back in the Mother Country (UK), or the East coast .Wet places - "The Asbestos Forest", here in the NE. ( A bit harsh maybe , but ignoring it won't make it any better )"

It's not a bit harsh, it's just completely uninformed. The Australian authorities were basing their claims on information from Firefighters that there were signs of arson and that they believed some fires were being re-lighted after they had put them out. Several of the fires have now been PROVEN to have been caused by arson, many of which caused fatalities.

Australians are well aware of the risk and likelihood of bushfires in our arid country, which has highly flammable native vegetation. Australians are also very well-versed in how to deal with bushfires, and our firefighters are highly-skilled and extensively-trained professionals and volunteers. These fires were above and beyond anything ever witnessed in Australian history, and therefore they are the worst fires in world history. The highest temperatures ever recorded in the state of Victoria (high 40s Celsius) and a gale force wind of 100km/h created fires which were approx. 900 degrees celsius at the base and 2000 degrees celsius at the top. This is much more severe than the usual Australian bushfire, and is known as a "superfire". Superfires shoot embers (up to 4 meters long!) hundreds of feet. These fires were much faster, much hotter, and much harder to control than the worst Australian bushfires usually are, and that's why they have been so deadly and so many houses have been lost. If you knew anything about the history of bushfires in Australia, you would understand how unusual this death toll and this number of houses being lost is. Only the Ash Wednesday fires (which killed 75 people) come remotely close to these fires. We can be fairly sure that these are the only TWO such catastrophic bushfire disasters in the human history of Australia (Aboriginal Australians had back-burning techniques and could readily leave areas threatened by fire due to their nomadic lifestyle for 40 000-60 000 yrs before colonisation).