She lives very close to the fires, and so does her whole extended family, including friends. It's their community.
They deal with bushfire every year. They were prepared, they do have fireplans.
This was no bushfire. It was a tsunami of fire.
It's different to a bushfire.
Please try and understand - there was no warning, no way out. These people were not fools.
The CFA rate a fire at 100 if it becomes ‘unfightable’… due to its strength, ferocity, incredible heat and speed – the Kinglake fire was rated at 400. The people stuck in the middle of it had no CFA/DSE assistance (the Kinglake CFA truck was at Wandong fighting that fire), and did the best they possibly could under the most horrifically scary circumstances.
L. went to footy training last night and came away with more horrible stories from people he knows/plays footy with/etc.
It really does break your heart.
A is in the (local) CFA. He’s been on body collection duty the past two days – going into properties searching for those who haven’t made it… how horrible. Having lived in the area forever – him and his crew know a lot of the people they’re finding.
They predict they’re going to find a lot more.
L's Dad is devastated for the same reasons. Having lived in the area forever, and working in the local ... store for just about the same time, he also knows of too many people who have died.
The story that is sticking with me though, is that of B’s friend who lives in Kinglake, who is close friends with a woman who lost her 15yr old son.
She was out shopping – he spent the day at home. She got a call from him screaming that the windows were exploding and he didn’t know what to do – the phone line dropped out and that was the last she heard from him – how utterly tragic.
How will she ever recover? Words don’t really express the horror.
Apparently a lot of children have perished, being left at home on their own – their parents must be inconsolable. It was a Saturday arvo – parents were out and about (as you do) and kids were hanging about the house. Too, too tragic. All too sudden.
M's niece & nephew are holding up well (just upset about the loss of some treasured Xmas pressies!)… but his brother is still figuring out how to tell them that quite a few of their close friends have perished. The kids are around 6 and 10 yrs of age – how do you tell kids who have spent the night terrified in their car while their house burnt down that kids they are friends with have burnt as well?
One thing I do want to tell you though, is to please ignore anyone who harps on about people ‘leaving too late’ and being improperly prepared. These people that live in Kinglake are fire-prepared. They do have fireplans. They live with bushfire every summer and are well aware of the risks. However this fire was a ‘perfect storm’ situation. It did not behave like previous fires, nor like any fire that will follow. It was QUICK!
M. says it wasn’t moving quick so much as one minute there wasn’t a fire – the very next there was a raging inferno & smoke too thick to see through – no exaggeration. People had NO WARNING. Some people were told they had an hour, and within 10 minutes their house was on fire. Other people were told they had 10 minutes, and within 1 minute the fire was in their backyard. Other people had no warning at all. If you had 10 minutes warning to get out and get your kids in the car – how quickly do you think you could do it? 10 minutes is NOTHING. Those who got caught fleeing were enacting their fire plan of evacuation – but the fire just did not give the same amount of ‘safe’ time as other fires. If you listen to the radio (ABC emergency broadcast 774) you’ll hear announcements telling people in certain areas to enact their fire plan now, giving people the time to flee or prepare their property to stay. We listened to the radio ALL DAY Saturday and had no idea there was a fire IN Kinglake until it had already wreaked havoc. We had no idea the fire was within less than hour from our place (turned back thankfully by the southerly change). At one point the fire was travelling 1.5kms every 10 minutes. People smelled smoke, looked out the window to see a wall of flames a couple of metres from their door – that’s the first warning they got. Those who stayed to defend their houses – who were fully prepared with all the water/pumps/etc that would have saved their home in any other bushfire were quickly overwhelmed and exit routes cut-off. A guy who stayed to protect his home only to lose the battle said that houses weren’t catching fire – they were exploding as soon as the flames reached them – the radiant heat was THAT hot… WHITE hot…. You can’t fight that.
So yeah – excuse my rant – but I’m getting really upset hearing people/officials saying those who have died left their run too late, were ignorant of conditions or allowed panic to take over. They died because they were given no time for options. It’s actually amazing anyone survived in my opinion. I’ve had friends who have since managed to ‘sneak’ in past roadblocks to get to their stranded families and have said they wished they didn’t have to see what they have. Grown men are struggling to describe what has been left behind.. what they are seeing… it is beyond comprehension…
We’re still pretty wary at our place. We had a fire burning 20 minutes from our place last night – but thankfully the continued southerly winds are keeping all fires in the area burning northwards away from us, and the humidity in the air has again increased and cooler temperatures reign. Still a lot of smoke in the air – a lot of very nervous people around our area. Also a lot of very sad people – I doubt there’d be anyone in our area who doesn’t know somebody who fell victim, and the knowledge that the awful tragedy, that all those people suffered and died on our very doorstep is just horrific…
* M from this story is my BIL's best friend. He lives in Kinglake. He loaded up the ute but his tyres ( burst? ) from the heat. Luckily a stranger picked him up. It appears his house still stands but his car is a burnt out wreck. His own brother lives only 2 streets away and is homeless. M thought he and his family were dead for 24hrs.
* My sister also has some other friends in the area who have a wee newborn baby. Due to the heat, they decided to drive into town to a big shopping centre that morning, to relax and cool down in the airconditioning. There but for the Grace of God.......