In February we had the many fires. We had fires here a week BEFORE ‘Black Saturday’ so we were sort of veterans by the time the worst arrived – and we WERE much better prepared because we had already been threatened for a week. The earlier fires: the Mirboo North/Boolarra fires affected many people we know. Our friends the Cleavers lost their shed and equipment and much of their chestnut orchard but thanks partly to one of our trusty fire fighting pumps and generators (and a lot of hard work) they DID manage to save their house – and themselves. Others were not so lucky. They then turned around the following week and helped us save ours. Well done team Cleaver.
Then came Black Saturday which was a pretty nasty /interesting day here too. I think much of the disaster was down to the Authorities’ many warnings about ultimate catastrophe, which were a red rag to a bull for potential and real arsonists. Naturally such lunatics are just allowed to roam our streets without let or hindrance in this wondrous green socialist paradise. As well, if the Public Authorities did more to prevent and/or prepare for bushfires many disasters could be readily averted. For example, nearly a year later there have been no firebreaks created or maintained. No safe havens have been developed. There are no new fire bunkers (the old ones having fallen into disrepair twenty or more years ago); there is still no agreed standard for home bunkers. There has been little land clearing particularly along our roads which might otherwise be escape routes but which thanks to misdirected environmental efforts have become little other than wicks. Very little cool burning has been done over autumn to spring in the areas which have not burned over the last few years so that the bush remains a tinder box. That which burned in the last few years is getting close to burning again. They say NERO fiddled while Rome burned. I believe Nero may actually have been a committee – a creature with many heads and no brain! Or his name may be an acronym for NewAge Environmental Resource Officer!
After and during the fires we were locked up at home by the police roads blocks here for weeks as if WE were the culprits. Meanwhile idiots were lighting fires locally on a daily basis – which was pretty scary. It made it hard to sneak through a neighbour’s farm to check on our stock at the other farm. Beer (or the lack of it) also loomed as a real danger – I am glad to report this disaster was averted. We had always believed that our biggest danger from a fire would come from the East from where we NEVER get weather. Naturally for a week after Black Sat the wind blew constantly from that direction, which was also naturally where the fires continued to burn. Fortunately the idiot who lit the Churchill fires did so in plantations to the North East of us and the wind was blowing (as always) from the West. It swung from North West to South West later in the day causing the deaths of a dozen people around Callignee etc only a few kilometres away. Steve was down at the bottom farm filling up a fire fighting water cube and so saw the fire begin. The guy had lit a belt of grass on a track verge in one of APM’s plantations about 2 kilometres long (petrol accelerant) so the fire really took off astonishingly fast. Fortunately it was obviously going to miss our house on the first pass and we would only be affected by it burning upwind later in the day unless the wind came from the East. We were all set up with three fire fighting pumps and three generators to run various things and with a heap of volunteers to keep things hosed down. We had also mown any grass for a hundred or more metres from the house previously, so the main task for the day was keeping cool, feeding the multitudes, drinking copious quantities of beer and watching the fire burning in the valley to the East and the efforts of the Firies and bulldozers in containing it.