Monday, February 9, 2009

The Victorian Fires

There is no way one can really put into words the horror of the Victorian fires.

I can do no better than recommend you read the account by Gary Hughes, that was on today's front page of The Australian. It is a 'happy' story from a day when such types of stories feel like they were in the minority. Here is an excerpt:

The house begins to fill with smoke. The smoke alarms start to scream. The smoke gets thicker.

I go outside to see if the fire front has passed. One of our two cars under a carport is burning. I rush inside to get keys for the second and reverse it out into an open area in front of the house to save it.

That simple act will save our lives. I rush back around the side of the house, where plastic plant pots are in flames. I turn on a garden hose. Nothing comes out.

I look back along its length and see where the flames have melted it. I try to pick up one of the carefully positioned plastic buckets of water I've left around the house. Its metal handle pulls away from the melted sides.

I rush back inside the house. The smoke is much thicker. I see flames behind the louvres of a door into a storage room, off the kitchen. I open the door and there is a fire burning fiercely.
I realise the house is gone. We are now fighting for our lives.

We retreat to the last room in the house, at the end of the building furthest from where the firestorm hit. We slam the door, shutting the room off from the rest of the house. The room is quickly filling with smoke. It's black, toxic smoke, different from the superheated smoke outside.

We start coughing and gasping for air. Life is rapidly beginning to narrow to a grim, but inevitable choice. Die from the toxic smoke inside. Die from the firestorm outside.

It is an incredible account.

Life is fragile, hug your loved ones.

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