F is for Fire
|Fires in Victoria, 2009 (ABC News)|
F is for Fire
If there was one thing I feared most, it would be fire, bushfire. I grew up in country South Australia . . . in the Adelaide Hills, a very fire prone area of the state. As a child, every time I heard the fire siren go off I would become frightened. . . I knew the power of fire, I knew what it could do and I was terrified of it. My dad was part of the volunteer fire brigade and when he hear the siren, off he went and helped out. But one day, the fire came to him and he was alone. The fire was so bad, no fire fighting team could come to his aid . . . and as a result my parents fought this fire alone. I cannot imagine what it must have been like.
On the morning of the 16th of February 1983, a series of bush fires started in both Victoria and South Australia. Within 12 hours, more than 180 fires fanned by winds of up to 110km per hour caused widespread destruction. These were firestorms, no ordinary fires that we had witnessed before.
The conditions were perfect for the worse sort of fire, in both Melbourne and Adelaide the heat quickly rose to above 43C, with humidity plunging to as low as 6%. The first fires was reported at 11:30am, south of Adelaide. Property loss began in the early afternoon, particularly in the Adelaide Hills and the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne. The fire reached my parents home by mid afternoon destroying all in its path.
By dusk, the fires were out . . . but in its wake was something I had never witnessed in my life and is marked firmly in my memory. I can still remember the smell that lingered for weeks and weeks, the smell of a burnt community.
This day of destruction is now known as "Ash Wednesday" and it occurred 29 years today. I still fear fires and that day 29 years ago still brings tears to my eyes . . . I nearly lost my parents and my home on that fateful day, one we should not forget and one we should use as a reminder to be always vigilant in making sure our homes (if we live in fire prone areas) are as safe as possible from fire. Sadly in 2009 we witness another terrible fire in Victoria where 173 died and anther 414 were injured. We still have much to learn about fire and how deadly they are.
|This is the front of our family home a day after the bush fire - the house was damaged, the Lord was good.|
|The garden and tennis court|
|The apple orchard|
|No matter where you looked it was black - not a blade of grass was left.|