Thursday, February 12, 2009

Fires in Australia - 1st Person Account - Chapter 1

By Guest Blogger Adrianne Newman who lives in the south of Australia, in the Australian state of Victoria. This is near Melbourne. Ms. Newman is an American who has lived in Australia for about 30 years. Glenys and Ms. Newman are partners.

This was date marked as 2/10 @ 4:30 am.:


We haven't quite been ourselves and should have reported in before
this as I can see many of you are concerned. But we've been glued to
the ABC Emergency Services radio listening vigilently for alert
warnings to leave.

Saturday was a day out of was 47 degrees here, 117 degrees
F, and there were gale force winds blowing. I made a comment in an
email to someone that if you lit a match today and dropped it, it
would burn all the way to the coast. Little did I realise how
prescient that statement would be.

Glenys worked until 1 pm but then came home and we walked out back and
saw these huge smoke columns that were on the distant hills that
seemed to be coming towards us. [Stupid me had been sitting in the
house with the aircon on and the blinds drawn and wasn't monitoring
events.] We went in and through the house and got the essentials and
packed the cars and got the dog ready to leave. If you have never
done that, it is a very interesting exercise about what doesn't matter
in your life. [And if you have never felt 117 degree heat in gale
force, I can't explain that to you either.]

Went back out as we heard that it was spotting in Doreen, which is
about 20 minnies from where we live, and Glenys said "can you feel it
- I feel the cool change." I told her she was having a menopause
moment and that it was evaporation but then I felt it as well. So the
wind had swapped from North, which brings the hot air down from
Central Australia..[.and who the fuck would live there, I ask you, if
that's their weather], to Southerly and dropped about 10 degrees C in
5 minutes.

We turned to look at the smoke clouds to see them now drifting in the
opposite direction and then looked at each other, started crying and
realised that our fortune was someone elses misfortune. And God what
misfortune that has turned out to be.

If you go to you can see and read about what has
happened since then.

I'm going to work just to be with people because I'm not coping with
the fact that a wonderful woman who has groomed Chloe for the last 11
years, and who I could always depend on for a natter before and after
the drop off, is listed as missing and presumed dead. I keep going
down to the shop to see if there is any word but we all just stand
there shell shocked, crying and shaking because even her Mother has
given her up for dead. She last spoke to her on Saturday at 4 pm and
Tanya was oblivious to the fact that there was a wasn't on
the internet. Tanya has put a face to this devastation for us.

Eye witnesses who were in Kinglake, where Tanya lived, said they went
out to a ridge to look at a fire that was 20 kilometres away and all
of a sudden were burned by the trees that erupted into flame beside
them. Fireballs travelled 14 to 20 kilometres before the fires on the
winds, setting new ones, so it is no wonder that survivors are saying
that they had no warning. Only consolation for me is that it
evidently was a quick kill so says a man who managed to survive from a
drain pipe because the fire rolled over the houses, they exploded, the
roofs came down and entombed the people. Whole towns are like that
now and 181 people are dead tonight.

And the fires have only waxed and waned since then although the
temperatures have gotten way was 21C, or 70 F, and
Glenys and I are cold after all the warm weather. [We had had 3 days
of 43,44 and 45 the week before.]

Firefighters are trying to get blazes under control in this cooler
weather but they must be absolutely exhausted. Go the fireys, we're
all saying, and we're putting them ALL up for Queen's Honours next
year....well I am!

However we were warned tonight that February is our worst fire month
and that it is only the 10th so don't think that this is over by any

And the thing that I cannot get my head around is that some of these
fires were deliberately lit on Saturday. I want them caught,
handcuffed, put against a wall and shot on national television because
they are no different from terrorists, or as the Prime Minister called
them, mass murderers. Not only of people but of flora and fauna.

However if you do the prayer thing, can you please remember us over
here.....all of us.

1 comment:

Sepiru Chris said...


Thanks for hosting this...