Monday, 10 February 2014

Fire At Our Doorsteps

The Country Fire Authority warned us that Sunday, 9 February 2014, would be the day when Victoria burned. They just didn't where and nothing could prepare us for the fright when we were directly in danger.

Photograph by Grant Logan
There were fires everywhere and the Vic Emergency website lit up like a Christmas tree when existing fires grew and new fires started. It was only two days after the fifth year anniversary of the infamous black Saturday and we had seen the ferocity of lethal fire front.

By mid morning an alert was issued that a fire had sprung up somewhere near Dalrymple Road and it was traveling in a south easterly direction around The Gap. Some confusing reports emerged from people who were not sure whether it was only a single building or a much larger problem.

Soon the emergency services were fully engaged. It is claimed that 75 fire trucks, with supporting water bombing helicopters, were engaged to fight the fire front while police cut off roads between Gisborne and Diggers Rest. 

People felt powerless as they were not sure what to do. Many people rushed home to be with loved ones while others gathered their priceless things in case of evacuation. Some lost their properties and animals.

The fire crews were the real heroes of the day. They faced a fire that changed rapidly as the winds shifted from one direction to another. One Diggers Rest firery, Steph Cassar, said that it went down as one of the scariest days of her life.

Then it was really on. The fire was quickly heading towards Riddells Creek and Mount Macedon. If the fire wasn't stopped by late afternoon then a catastrophe would envelop our neighbours. The forest would explode and we may have witnessed another Ash Wednesday. The water bombers hit the fire front while the on ground crews stood fast. The wind died down a little and then people were saved.

We know that the CFA saved many properties and probably some lives. All that we can do is thank them with all of our hearts. Fires are still burning across the state on Monday, 10 February, and those fire crews are back out after only a short rest.

Sunday, 9 February is etched into our minds and, for some, it will never be forgotten. Grass and bush fires are not distant things - they can arrive at our door steps with very little warning.

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