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Bushfires: Taking Stock, As New Threat Advances

  • March 1st, 2009
  • Posted by 7thmin

koala-love-high-res2.jpgA new bushfire alert — after a window of cooler weather over the last week provided a pause in the battle for Victoria.


Australia commemorated the lost and suffering in its day of remembrance, Sunday 22.2.09, counting the cost of the devastating “Black Saturday” fires (7.2.09), which burned on through the weeks that followed.

Official guests at the main gathering of 50000 people in Melbourne, including the Princess Royal, Princess Anne, from England, applauded the courage of the firefighters and survivors.

To date 210 people have been listed dead, many others suffering from trauma including severe burns.

Another 37 are still counted as missing.

An estimated 2000 homes were destroyed.

Some 450 000 hectares of forest were burnt out over a wide sweep of country Northwards from Melbourne in the state of Victoria, and there were substantial livestock losses.

After more than a decade of drought in the region, producing a build-up of dry vegetation; the fires were brought on by days of abnormal high temperatures, up to 48-degrees, and winds that rose to 125 kph.

Well rehearsed fire protection procedures, (like the dictum: “leave early or stay and fight”), sometimes worked, and sometimes could have no impact against the suddenness and explosive power of the fires.

The lower temperatures of recent days still did not bring substantial rain, most needed to end the drawn-out crisis.


Some of the fires were deliberately lit; police conducting extensive inquiries have made two arrests for arson.

This week a new alert has been raised in advance of extreme hot days and strong winds expected from Tuesday in Australia (3.209); 3000 firefighters now deployed in the field.

The long and terrible Summer is not yet over.


ABC News (Australia), Fire crews scramble ahead of worsening conditions, 1.3.09.…, (1.3.09).

BBC, Australia mourns bushfire victims, 22.2.09., (1.3.09).

Bloomberg agency., Bushfire threat in Australia’s Victoria eases…, 27.2.09., (1.3.09).

Reuters, At least 37 still missing in Australian fires: army, 28.2.09., (1.3.09).

Picture:  Copyright AAP