Thursday, February 12, 2009


Australia has been hit by the worst bushfires in its history. After incredibly hot days over 40 degrees and high winds, there was always a risk, but this is like hellfire. At least 181 people are now known to have died, but many more are missing and the toll is expected to reach 300 people.

Canberra, where I live, suffered bushfires in 2003. They were very, very frightening. The fires had been burning around the edges of our territory for most of the week, but we were assured by authorities that they were under control. On the Saturday morning, the Big Dude and I had gone to see the Lord of the Rings movie, which ended with the final battle for Middle Earth. We emerged, blinking in the sunlight, to find the skies turned an apocolyptic, furious orange-red. My head was still half in Middle Earth and, for a moment, it seemed like the end of the world. Hot black ash fell from the skies onto our faces. It just seemed unbelievable that bushfires could enter the suburbs of Canberra, including the suburb we had just moved into that week.

But those fires were caused by lightening strikes. These fires seem to have been at least partly caused by arsonists.

I have been avoiding the news. I just find the constant coverage and continually rising death toll too sad, too macabre. Yesterday, I finally read the newspaper. I wish I hadn't. The stories of the old couple arguing over whether to stay and defend their house or run for their lives, until the wife left her husband sitting obstinately on his verandah and never saw him again. The stories of the 000 emergency hotline operators listening to people dying over the phone and the firefighters tripping over the bodies of people killed as they fled in cars and on foot. And ever since I read the description of a little five year old boy, with intense blue eyes, staring up at the sky, lying dead near the bodies of his mother and brother, the image is haunting me.

Those poor, poor people. What a horrible way to die.


Blogger Desmond Jones said...

I read about those things, and even as far away as I am, I am just dumbstruck. You all are in our prayers, Em.

I have a brother who lives in Arizona, and they had some really bad wildfires a few years back that got close enough for him to see the flames, but he never had to evacuate. . .

7:26 AM  
Blogger Sailor said...

Wildfires are scary, I hope that they get them under control soon, and that they catch the person or people responsible.

Praying for you, and all that are affected..

1:03 PM  
Blogger freebird said...

Just too awful.

1:36 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home