Saturday, February 14, 2009

Fire disaster

As I sit here in my South Pacific paradise, enduring a third day of intermittent torrential rain, I read that 31 fires are still burning out of control in Victoria. For a full week I’ve found the unfolding disaster in Victoria beyond words. Today I still find personal reflection pretty much irrelevant.

I note, with a great deal of pleasure, that people around the world care. I also note that foreign media find it easier to cover the story in detail than do our own media. Anyone who has ever reported on personal disaster will know how uncomfortable it really is to just be a hard nosed reporter.

Still, a week on and some very moving reports are coming through, not to dismiss the efforts of the reports we’ve had all week. I commend the following

The nation is mourning and searching for answers. How do we make sense of losing so many good people, of so much devastation? The painful truth

Marysville residents to see burned town

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

On arson:

Perhaps the hardest fact for everybody affected by these fires to accept is that they will not be the last. The Australian bush has evolved to burn and grow again. And for as long as there are morally malformed individuals in our midst, communities will suffer from the idiocies of arson. Australian editorial

Marysville the great unknown

This morning, the township's residents will be taken by bus into Marysville for the first time since last weekend's firestorm flattened their properties and devastated their lives.

At a closed meeting yesterday, police officers tried to prepare them before they re-entered what has become Australia's biggest crime scene.

Only 12 to 14 of hundreds of homes remain standing in the once pretty tourist town. The Australian

5 comments:

abi said...

What a horror - especially since it was man made.

It is heartening, tho, to read of Rudd's response to it. What a difference between a man like that and George Bush with Katrina.

Cart said...

Thanks Abi. Can't claim responsibility for Rudd, but he is a breath of fresh air.
It is a horror and not easy to deal with. When the PM stands there blubbering because of the heartbreak at least you don't feel isolated in the grief.

D.K. Raed said...

I was just reading your links, Cart. It's heartbreaking. Just awful the way the fires snuck up so people didn't even see them coming. I've yet to see a good map or aerials, but the descriptions are horrific. Our thoughts are with your country as you battle this greedy beast and deal with the aftermath.

D.K. Raed said...

ps, is there any talk down there of trying the checkerboard pattern of fire control? It's used on the Mexican side of our border and is one reason fires don't rage out of control down there, like they do on the U.S. side. They control-burn everything down to the ground in a checkerboard pattern. It denies fuel for wildfires while leaving big plots of land available for public use. But it's pretty heartless as it demands destruction of so much land that needs to be reburnt often. I don't know if it's even desirable to use that method in a forested area. It does seem your native plants & animals have evolved to deal with huge bush fires. But people and farms and suburbs, not so much.

Cart said...

DK, You might find the google map link useful. http://www.google.com.au/landing/victorianbushfires/
There seems to be a fair consensus that the only effective approach will be year by year re-planning to changing conditions. I expect the checkerboard approach is limited by terrain and the many national parks in these rugged areas.
Listening to survivors the fires were almost alive, slipping back and forth and changing attack directions with military precision. I know that doesn’t make sense, but it seems, if given a checkerboard they would have played checkers.
I guess the good news is that we have some determined strategist in the picture now, no doubt with powers we’ve never seen before. But they are talking about more intensive and relevant planning. The bad news is that we love our bush, as natural as possible.