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Black Saturday Friends Family & Southern Australia

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya, For those in Australia you really won't need to read most of what I have written but I think maybe you should read 'the mind numbing stupid comment' below about Australia made by someone who has obviously never been to Australia and who also obviously has no idea about natural disasters at all for that matter. I for one could imagine her/him giving this same answer about the Sichuan earthquake in China last year. They had mobile phones, surely they could have rang the people at the bottom of the mountains! Thousands of villages would have been saved. Yeah, right...ok! Over the past week I have been getting many emails from people from all over this beautiful planet of ours checking to make sure my family was safe and that I was ok. So I decided to put this page together for those who live out of Australia and are trying to comprehend some of the answers I gave to their questions about the fires that Australians face each and every year during the summer months. Of course some of these years are much worse than others and thankfully there is a large gap between these years. But, sadly due to natural causes (and also like this year, the works of the insane) this gap can never be and will never be far enough apart simply due to Mother Nature. So this page is for all of my friends that I have met over the past nine years, mostly during the five I have spent travelling. I still keep in contact with many of them and a close bond has grown between us. This actually goes way back nine years ago when I first met Polish Rafal in Yunnan Province in China. Depending on what life throws at us sometimes many months may fly by between contacts but normally like at present we chat on Skype or Yahoo almost daily. It has been a long time between beers for most of us though. The first thing any of these people asked me was whether my family was safe. Amazingly nearly all of them remembered that I was from Victoria in Australia. Humans are amazing creatures, within us all we have the ability to care so much for each other and when something of this magnitude occurs the caring and love naturally flows just like that blood that runs throughout our very body. But strangely humans also have the ability to not only destroy each other but to also have brought the very planet we walk on to the brink of a destructive no return. No matter how hard I try I will never understand the human mind. We have almost destroyed the very thing we need to survive. I told everyone that yes, thankfully my family was safe then (and are still safe now) even though there were huge fires almost surrounding them. At one stage they came very close, much too close but thankfully the wind changed direction which also sadly meant that it turned the fires destructive force in another town's direction. I spent several days living on the edge of my seat always hoping for good news and dreading the worst. Thankfully the worst never came to me like it did to hundreds of families across southern Australia. It is times like this that I question living so far away from my family and friends. Have you ever been in another country and been on the phone to your mother and father while something extra bad is happening around them that could change all of your futures for ever? On this occasion the town they were in was surrounded by huge fire walls. No matter how hard they tried they can never hide the emotions and fear that lay just beneath their steady and calm voices. It was a horrible few days and to make it even worse, when I heard that the winds had picked up again I had to spend well over four hours walking around my little Chinese mountain city trying to find a phone that could ring out of the country. When I did it then took nearly ten minutes for it to do what ever it had to do and get me through. Of course each time it didn't I had pictures in my head of the lines being burnt down. Which then led to other horrible thoughts. Over the past several days I have been getting emails from mostly Asian friends asking about the fires but when I try to explain it to them I don't think they can truly comprehend what a real Australian bushfire is about (or any bush fire for that matter) How powerful it is, how hot it is and how unpredictable it is. In my mind they are thinking of small patch of bush with several trees engulfed by flame and those flames being only the size of the trees. I try to explain that a bush fire such as this one can move at an estimated 60 to 100 kilometers per hour (40 to 60 miles per hour). When you look through the photos on this page the photo of the fire truck that reads Tynong is very close to my town. In fact with fires that move so fast Tynong is much too close to my town. I also try to explain that the fire does not stop at the tree tops. That it can be compared to a tidal wave in its sheer size and length. I try to explain that a fire like what southern Australia has just gone through can kind of can also be compared to a volcano. In fact when I first returned to my school and the Chinese English Teachers came to say hello I showed them pictures of what was happening and they all actually thought it was a volcano that had erupted. Both have smoke and ash that turn day into night. Both fire and lava will destroy anything in their paths due to their intense heat. . Both have the destructive ability to destroy towns far from them by fire from the skies above.. My home town was being covered by embers for days and it is these embers that allow a bush fire to spawn. A new fire is soon started and under the right conditions, within minutes it begins to leap from tree to tree and soon enough it joins its parent and becomes one. I try to explain to them how hot it is at forty degrees and that we have several of these days in southern Australia each year. For them most though, to even grasp what forty seven degrees is like is impossible. That also includes me as I've had many years worth of 38 to 41 degrees, maybe 42 but never over. I wasn't going to do a blog page on what happened but when I come across the following comment (below) made by a complete idiot who has no idea what Australia is really like from its weather to its natural disasters, the first thing that came to mind was that this persons 'mindless comments' really were no different to the innocent questions that have been asked by some of my friends. My friends, unlike 'the mindless person', actually know that they have no idea about Australia and are simply trying to comprehend what such a situation would be like. The 'mindless comment' person on the other hand, actually thinks that he/she knows what its like. And also had the never to give advice! Nonetheless, I the 'Honest Answer By Someone Who Actually Knows' below I hope will explain what happened, the conditions, how unpredictable a bush fire can be along with being descriptive enough to explain Australia and our land all in several paragraphs. For those who need more I have added more information on Australia and our severe climate along with more information on what happened recently. Photos can be found at the bottom of the page as usual and as it's all about my homeland the music of choice was my good friend Darren the Busker. If in Melbourne you can usually find him tapping his strings at the Swanson Street Walk end of the Bourke Street Mall. To my friends and family, I love and miss you all very much. To all the everyone that had a hose or a bucket in hand.......Beers N Noodles toya.....shane <u>A MIND NUMBING STUPID COMMENT</u></b> Government and media will keep the focus on arsonists while it is obvious that THE DEATHS ARE THE RESULT OF NOTIFICATION SYSTEM FAILURE 1) all these bush fires are visible by some satellite round the clock 2) every human there has a mobile Millions of dollars spent to imitate the attempts to stop what is not possible to stop while seems nothing was spent to notify the people to save them. You do not say everything you understand. You understand that you are in global warming and possibly as early as next summer you could get into the same "unique" conditions. So obviously something has to be done regarding these bush fires. Situations in which people die because they have "plan" but have not real shelter and have no real information is not acceptable I think. This is the point which should be discussed by government, not arsonists. Don't load me about absence of mobile signal in towns, OK. Even if it is so, the firefighters have enough hardware to receive the data. The primitive weather satellites have the infrared picture round the clock. Excuse me my meddling anyway, it is your right to live and die as freely as you want, me too. <u>HONEST ANSWER BY SOMEONE WHO ACTUALLY KNOWS</u></b> In response to your cold message about these bushfires: I live in Queensland, Australia in a regional town, not unlike that of the towns destroyed by the bushfires in Victoria. I cant help but to feel as though some people have been mislead with what is going on over here, but what we do know is that the victoria bushfires are on our televisions every night, on the radio overy hour. Some fires are believed to be started by arsonists, others by lightning and others unknown. What I can say is that if you dont know about bushfires and living in a rural area or living in Australia fullstop, then don't try to act as though you know all the facts of what is going on over here. Some people just do not understand our climate over here or the way things work. Victoria, like other states in this country, experienced a heatwave making this whole situation worse. Yeah, theres satellites and mobile phones and landline phones, but what use is that when the mobile towers are burned and the power lines are burned, and besides, half the people have no reception that far out of a city or suburban area, so none of it is of any use to them. For some, their homes are all they have and if they wanted to stay and fight, its their choice. Some say its foolish for them to do so, but to us Aussies will fight till the end and save what we hold dear to us. Some might think that they had plenty of warning, but they didn't. The facts are this: the bushfires were burning away from the King Lake area, moving in the opposite direction, to them is posed no threat. But the wind suddenly changed direction, pushing the fires towards King Lake and surrounding areas. The wind and the fire were moving at over 100 kilometers (or over 62 miles) an hour. Everyone who was there in King Lake said that they had less than five minutes before the fires were in their backyards or burning their homes. This isn't a suburban area, its a rural community with plenty of trees and bushland so the fire spread easily. The fires were so fierce that the sky went black like it was night and no one could see anything even if they were nowhere near the fire. These people had no warning and no way of seeing that this was going to happen. The only thing they could do was try and get out as quick as they could. People couldn't see on the roads because of the smoke and they crashed their cars and they caught fire and burned people alive. There was no warning and the last that anyone in the area knew was that the fire was moving in the opposite direction away from them. By the time people saw the fire coming and they packed some things it was in their backyard and surrounding their houses. It wasn't a 'notification failure' at all, it was a horrible force of nature which was started by some idiot who decided to light a fire in the middle of bushland while there was a massive heatwave going on.</b> We can only 'blame' the deaths on the supposed arsonists who started all of this and mother nature. The arsonist picked the wrong place and time to start a fire and it got out of control. Not even thousands of fire trucks, volunteers, firefighters and our special water bombing helicopters could have saved all of those people and stopped this fire, and thats not coming from me, thats coming from firefighters themselves. This fire is the worst we have ever seen, look at the pictures and you can see. Could you stop that fire with your garden hose that now doesnt work because your water supply has been cut off because of the fire? Some people need to grow up and stop being so ignorant. Have some sympathy for the hundreds of people who burned alive. </b> <u>SOUTHERN AUSTRALIA AND ITS INFERNOS</u></b> Bushfires in Australia, particularly in the south-east of the continent, occur more frequently and extensively than anywhere else in the world. Many species of flora in Australia have evolved to rely on bushfires as a means of reproduction and they are an interwoven and essential part of life for all flora and fauna on the continent. Large bushfires often merge to form fire complexes which can burn millions of hectares of land and pose a major threat to human settlements, particularly in rural areas. Fire complexes, which are most common in Victoria, occur in roughly 20 year cycles (90s/00s, 20s, 40s, 60s, 80s, 00s) during which, drought breaks and vegetation recuperates before succumbing to the next wave of drought, rendering vegetation dry and subject to ignition, predominantly from lightning strikes. While bushfires occur almost all year round, they are concentrated during the summer months of December to February, although this can sometimes extend from September to April, this is known as the 'Australian bushfire season' and varies depending on the region. Many bushfires or fire complexes involve a peak periods of time, sometimes as little as a day, in which the wind and heat increase the unpredictability of the fire, this is when most fatalities occur. The most notable of these days are often given names based on the day on which they occur. The most intense, extensive and deadly bushfires commonly occurr during heat waves, such as the 2009 Southern Australia heat wave. 173 people have been killed in fires raging through Australia, making this the deadliest bushfire in Australian history. Nearly 815,447 acres (330,000 hectares) have been burned and 750 homes have been burned to the ground. In 1983, 75 people were killed on what was dubbed the Ash Wednesday fires. 71 people were killed in similar fires in 1939. The country's prime minister, Kevin Rudd calls the fires "mass murder". "This is of a level of horror that few of us anticipated. There are no words to describe it other than mass murder," said Rudd. The combination of Australia's long term drought, a record heat wave with temperatures as high as 117 fahrenheit (47.2 C) and winds over 60mph, sparked the dozens of fires across Victoria. Temperatures in Victoria today reached 47&deg; Celsius (115&deg; Fahrenheit), with the combination of temperatures and high winds helped to fuel the fires. The fire was reported to be moving at an estimated 60 kilometers per hour (40 miles per hour). Some are being investigated as arson. Over 60,000 firefighters are battling the various blazes. These fires although common in Australia have caught people unprepared due to their intensity and speed. Survivors of Kinglake tell of how up until 10 minutes before the fire started to tear through their country town people were unaware of how close and dangerous the fire really was. More than 30,000 volunteer firefighters were battling fires after dark, when helicopters and planes that hand-dumped millions of tons of water on the flames returned to base for safety reasons. 24 people from Kinglake and Kinglake West have died and hundreds of houses have burnt to the ground. Over 1,500 people in Kinglake alone have been left homeless, left with a town which has mostly burned to the ground. Many people have been caught in the terrifying position of staying and fighting for their houses or fleeing before the fires arrive. Many of the people who have died have attempted to flee in their cars too late and were caught in the middle of the inferno, some being burned alive. Despite the efforts of firefighters, many towns have been totally destroyed, leaving nothing but piles of ashes. Witnesses and survivors of fires in Marysville and Narbethong, Victoria, describe the towns as being totally wiped out or substantially damaged. <u>Quick and Ferocious</u></b> "It was very quick and ferocious and took everyone by surprise," said Jack Barber, who with his wife, a neighbor, six cats and a dog sought refuge with five other people on a cricket field surrounded by trees in Kinglake. "All around us was 100-foot flames ringing the oval, and we ran where the wind wasn't. It was swirling all over the place," he said. "For three hours, we dodged the wind." Firefighters battled more than a dozen blazes that burned out of control across Victoria state Monday, although conditions were much cooler than Saturday. Forecasters said temperatures would rise later this week, posing a risk of flare-ups. Blazes have been burning for weeks across several states in southern Australia, common for this time of year.</b> But the worst drought in a century in the south had left forests extra dry, and Saturday's temperature was 117 degrees (47 Celsius), the relative humidity was 7 percent, and the wind was gusting to 50 mph (80 kph). "I cannot fathom in my mind anything more hellish, firewise," said Jim Andrews, senior meteorologist at accuweather.com. He added that Australia's vegetation, such as eucalyptus and gum trees, contain flammable aromatic oils. He said temperatures in Australia were much higher than in Southern California, where wildfires raged through canyons last year. Authorities are investigating the fires, some 20% of them are being called arson or have being started by human error, leaving much of the scorched land a crime scene of ashes. Some of the fires were reignited by arsonists after firefighters had already taken control of them, according to one fire official in Victoria. Others are believed to have been started by lighting tires on fire. "Some of these fires have started in localities that could only be by hand, it could not be natural causes," said deputy commissioner for the Victoria state police, Kieran Walshe. Fire fighting operations chief, Steve Warrington says that the fire departments "know [they] have someone who is lighting fires in this community." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_Victorian_bushfires

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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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