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UPDATE 30th Mar - 173 confirmed dead in VIC bushfires

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barbarian

Phil Kearns (64)
Staff member
Re: Update 1800 hours Eastern - 173 confirmed dead in VIC bushfires

Was listening on the radio to Ross Noble (English long-haired comedian, often on Spicks and Specks, The Glass House etc) who only just got out but lost everything. He said his street had had multiple fire safety meetings, complex fighting and evacuation plans, and done everything humanly possible to prepare. His family were the only ones to get out alive.

Silences those people who think the area was underprepared...
 
J

Jury

Guest
Re: Update 1800 hours Eastern - 173 confirmed dead in VIC bushfires

barbarian said:
Was listening on the radio to Ross Noble (English long-haired comedian, often on Spicks and Specks, The Glass House etc) who only just got out but lost everything. He said his street had had multiple fire safety meetings, complex fighting and evacuation plans, and done everything humanly possible to prepare. His family were the only ones to get out alive.

Silences those people who think the area was underprepared...

I think it is unfair to blame the victims here. I know it is probably human nature to try and explain the tragedy that's occurring here, but for mine: some creeps started these fires and there's the explanation to what set everything in motion.
 
R

rugbywhisperer

Guest
Re: Update 1800 hours Eastern - 173 confirmed dead in VIC bushfires

While the tragedy does not bear comparison and there have been untold tales of freakish survival and death, there remains two basic problems.
The first is the fires started. How they started is up for conjecture at the moment but as 90% of all bushfires are deliberately lit one would have to suspect arson.
The second point is the more pertinent.
No matter how prepared you are, outside of having a specific fire bunker, you will not survive these wildfires.
I have had many years as a volunteer BF fighter as well as being a deputy captain at one of Sydneys busiest local VBF Brigades. There is a simple reason why the fires are so bad - ridiculously high fuel levels.
Still after all the disasters in the past - Ash Wednesday, Canberra a couple of years ago, Sydney 4 years ago, the relevant people are still hampered and even prohibited from doing hazard reduction burns by well intentioned yet terribly self interested greenies AND residents.
All these victims lived in pristine bush, a wonderful place to live yet I would guess the fuel loads there had not been reduced for in excess of 20-30 years. 10 tonnes per hectare is a dangerous situation yet we regularly surveyed areas where the loads were in excess of 40 tonnes per hectare - and all within metres of houses and schools and we were not allowed to do anything to reduce the load. Consequently when a fire did come through houses and property was lost in great numbers. We couldn't do anything other than watch.
Now here is the kicker. One resident in a wonderful bush setting had for years defied us and denied any hazard reduction on his wonderful bushland retreat. When the fire did eventually come through there was nothing we could do - the fuel load made it just way to intense to do anything but run away and watch from a distance as his property burned. He then started legal procedings against us for not trying to save his property when it was under threat - go figure but these people want their cake and to eat it to.

It's a simple equation, take away the fuel and a fire cannot burn.
The greenies and anyone else that have for years stood in the way of the CFA and the Rural BFB doing their job must now be told to dick off - forget how the fire started - they are the real cause of this tragedy. These fuel levels were a disaster waiting to happen.
The Australian bush need fires to survive. Many plants cannot germinate unless burned in a fire.
Lets all get emotions out of the way and do what has to be done to prevent this happening again - indefinitely,
1: compulsory controlled hazard reductions in ALL bush areas at least every 3-4 years - absolutely no longer
2: open up the forests and parks to create fire trails again
3: supply the army/air force with permanent fire fighting aerial supression aircraft
4: make it an offence to deny hazard reduction on property and all private properties must comply with proper fuel reduction guidelines otherwise it will be done forceably
5: all bush dwellings to have a perimeter and home fire suppression system (a bloody big one) and/or a fire bunker.

While what is happening is a tragedy in massive proportions, the loss of life and in most cases property was totally avoidable.
lets learn and progress.
 

Scarfman

Knitter of the Scarf
Re: Update 1800 hours Eastern - 173 confirmed dead in VIC bushfires

Great post, RW. I reckon fire bunkers will become much more common from now on. It gives you the chance to stay on the property having a go at fighting it, then have the bunker as a safe backup when things don't go your way.

In the Blue Mountains I believe fire reduction is enforced. My parents-in-law have land on the edge of the bush and got an order to clear undergrowth, etc.

The last thing piece of advice, which DOES NOT apply in this case, but more in the Blue Mountains where I live, is that people should grab the children and the photo album (or the computer these days) and get out. Yeah, you've got stuff in there, but you can always get some more. People are too attached to material possessions.
 

Cutter

Nicholas Shehadie (39)
Re: Update 1800 hours Eastern - 173 confirmed dead in VIC bushfires

rugbywhisperer said:
The greenies and anyone else that have for years stood in the way of the CFA and the Rural BFB doing their job must now be told to dick off - forget how the fire started - they are the real cause of this tragedy.

Only in the same way that a gun manufacturer is responsible for someone being shot.

rugbywhisperer said:
The Australian bush need fires to survive. Many plants cannot germinate unless burned in a fire.

Not all native flora needs fire to survive. In fact, fire kills some native flora and burns the seeds meaning that fierce or persistent fires will make certain flora unlikely to survive in an area. What fire does do is promote the right conditions for the flora which are fire tolerant and/or need fire to germinate. Fire leads to less biodiversity not more.

I'm not disagreeing with you rw, I'm just supplementing the debate. In fact I agree completely that there is a place for more hazard reduction but there is also a cost attached to that.

In addition to the high fuel load, other factors contributing to the severity of the fires were the heat, the drought and the winds. The cause of the fires was the arsonist/s.
 
R

rugbywhisperer

Guest
Re: Update 1800 hours Eastern - 173 confirmed dead in VIC bushfires

Cutter said:
rugbywhisperer said:
The greenies and anyone else that have for years stood in the way of the CFA and the Rural BFB doing their job must now be told to dick off - forget how the fire started - they are the real cause of this tragedy.

Only in the same way that a gun manufacturer is responsible for someone being shot.

rugbywhisperer said:
The Australian bush need fires to survive. Many plants cannot germinate unless burned in a fire.

Not all native flora needs fire to survive. In fact, fire kills some native flora and burns the seeds meaning that fierce or persistent fires will make certain flora unlikely to survive in an area. What fire does do is promote the right conditions for the flora which are fire tolerant and/or need fire to germinate. Fire leads to less biodiversity not more.

I'm not disagreeing with you rw, I'm just supplementing the debate. In fact I agree completely that there is a place for more hazard reduction but there is also a cost attached to that.

In addition to the high fuel load, other factors contributing to the severity of the fires were the heat, the drought and the winds. The cause of the fires was the arsonist/s.

Totally wrong analogy there. A gun manufacturer doesn't have control over who buys the guns but in this case the property owners and greenies had a loaded weapon in their posession and left it lying around for somone to play with. IMO while not as culpable as any arsonist they have an awful lot of explaining to do.
Sure the arsonist may have lit the fires as may a lightning bolt, but it wouldn't have burned if there was no fuel or insufficient fuel to propogate.

I would suggest if you surveyed the volunteers at the firefront their anger would be 50/50 at the arsonist (if there was one - probably) and those who allowed the forest situation to develop to the dangerous situation.
 

PaarlBok

Rod McCall (65)
Re: Update 1800 hours Eastern - 173 confirmed dead in VIC bushfires

Pretty sad news. In these area we also have the fires this time of year and actually frightening to say the least. In Paarl the top houses is close to the veld and every year the owners have to vacant their house and try to safe anything when the South Easter is in full cry with these fires. Stellenbosch had bad ones last week and the Sport Academy nearly burnt down. They even had to cancelled a hockey test between SA & Germany there due to this.

Decided to place this one from News24
While many fires wreaked havoc across the Western Cape on Thursday, the blazes raging in the Southern Cape were mostly brought under control.

A veld fire that started up again at Kranshoek outside Plettenberg Bay, was stopped with the help of firebreaks.

Firefighters from the Plettenberg Bay Fire Department and a helicopter from Working with Fire were sent to fight the fire, said Gerhard Otto, head of Eden disaster management. Smoke could still be seen late on Thursday.

Firefighting teams were still busy with a veld fire near Harkerville on Thursday evening.

At Brandwag near Mossel Bay, a veld fire was put out completely, said a spokesperson at the Eden disaster centre in Oudtshoorn. Veld fires northeast of the Kaaiman's Pass between Wilderness and George were completely under control, said Otto.

Fires still smouldered on Thursday and were monitored at all times. A helicopter from Working with Fire was on standby on Thursday morning. Smoke was still visible from the N2 and a few water trucks patrolled the area.

A veld fire nearly destroyed the luxurious Far Hills Country Hotel between George and Wilderness. Thirty people had to be brought to safety.

Firefighting teams battled throughout Wednesday night to safeguard the southern part of the Kaaiman's Pass.

Fire in Cape Town

Cape Town was covered by smoke and residents of Zonnebloem (the former District Six) were watering their gardens after a veld fire jumped over De Waal Drive and raged towards the city.

Traffic jams started at 12:00 due to De Waal Drive being closed.

There were smaller fires on Paarden Island and on Vlaeberg.

Nine fires kept firefighters busy in the Overberg region.

A fire that started in Hermanus on Saturday, started up again on the southern slope of the Kleinrivier Mountains in the Maanskynkop Reserve on Wednesday.

The flames moved slowly into difficult terrain on Thursday. Due to the vertical cliffs, the rented Working with Fire helicopter, the Overberg municipality and the Overstrand district municipality were unable to release water. Firefighters could be brought to the area, however.

Shortly after 18:00, the flames at the foot of the cliffs moved into a stretch of fynbos, which could pose a problem, said Reinard Geldenhuys, the Overberg firefighting head.

A team of 16 firefighters was sent to the area, while another team of 17 members would spend the night on the mountain.

The other big fire in the Overberg on Thursday earlier in the day forced the evacuation of several homes in an informal development in Gansbaai.

Elsewhere, firefighters were also kept busy with several other blazes, with some expressing doubt about the fire in Stellenbosch being put out.

"It all depends on the wind," said Leon Morta, firefighting head of the Stellenbosch municipality.
Luckily we had a bit of rain over the weekend and that is sometime the only way to stop the fire.
 

Thomond78

Colin Windon (37)
Re: Update 1800 hours Eastern - 173 confirmed dead in VIC bushfires

PaarlBok said:
Pretty sad news. In these area we also have the fires this time of year and actually frightening to say the least. In Paarl the top houses is close to the veld and every year the owners have to vacant their house and try to safe anything when the South Easter is in full cry with these fires. Stellenbosch had bad ones last week and the Sport Academy nearly burnt down. They even had to cancelled a hockey test between SA & Germany there due to this.

Decided to place this one from News24
While many fires wreaked havoc across the Western Cape on Thursday, the blazes raging in the Southern Cape were mostly brought under control.

A veld fire that started up again at Kranshoek outside Plettenberg Bay, was stopped with the help of firebreaks.

Firefighters from the Plettenberg Bay Fire Department and a helicopter from Working with Fire were sent to fight the fire, said Gerhard Otto, head of Eden disaster management. Smoke could still be seen late on Thursday.

Firefighting teams were still busy with a veld fire near Harkerville on Thursday evening.

At Brandwag near Mossel Bay, a veld fire was put out completely, said a spokesperson at the Eden disaster centre in Oudtshoorn. Veld fires northeast of the Kaaiman's Pass between Wilderness and George were completely under control, said Otto.

Fires still smouldered on Thursday and were monitored at all times. A helicopter from Working with Fire was on standby on Thursday morning. Smoke was still visible from the N2 and a few water trucks patrolled the area.

A veld fire nearly destroyed the luxurious Far Hills Country Hotel between George and Wilderness. Thirty people had to be brought to safety.

Firefighting teams battled throughout Wednesday night to safeguard the southern part of the Kaaiman's Pass.

Fire in Cape Town

Cape Town was covered by smoke and residents of Zonnebloem (the former District Six) were watering their gardens after a veld fire jumped over De Waal Drive and raged towards the city.

Traffic jams started at 12:00 due to De Waal Drive being closed.

There were smaller fires on Paarden Island and on Vlaeberg.

Nine fires kept firefighters busy in the Overberg region.

A fire that started in Hermanus on Saturday, started up again on the southern slope of the Kleinrivier Mountains in the Maanskynkop Reserve on Wednesday.

The flames moved slowly into difficult terrain on Thursday. Due to the vertical cliffs, the rented Working with Fire helicopter, the Overberg municipality and the Overstrand district municipality were unable to release water. Firefighters could be brought to the area, however.

Shortly after 18:00, the flames at the foot of the cliffs moved into a stretch of fynbos, which could pose a problem, said Reinard Geldenhuys, the Overberg firefighting head.

A team of 16 firefighters was sent to the area, while another team of 17 members would spend the night on the mountain.

The other big fire in the Overberg on Thursday earlier in the day forced the evacuation of several homes in an informal development in Gansbaai.

Elsewhere, firefighters were also kept busy with several other blazes, with some expressing doubt about the fire in Stellenbosch being put out.

"It all depends on the wind," said Leon Morta, firefighting head of the Stellenbosch municipality.
Luckily we had a bit of rain over the weekend and that is sometime the only way to stop the fire.

:eek:

Jesus wept. To explain this to people, De Waal drive is the main arterial road coming into Cape Town City Bowl. You're in the inner city suburbs at this stage, and under a kilometre from the city centre; District Six is a short stroll from Parliament, five to ten minutes at most. I know there was a guy charged with manslaughter for starting that veld fire on the Mountain a few years back; what happened with that, Oom?

Great post, RW; interestingly, back in August, Ms. T78 and I were out on a walk around the farm in Papkuilsfontein near OomPBsenaamville ;) with the owner of the farm - and he was looking at the place, and reckoning he was going to have to do some controlled burning, because good rains over the previous years meant that there was just too much fuel there for any fire, and that when a fire did happen, it'd be too hot and kill off the plants.
 

PaarlBok

Rod McCall (65)
Re: Update 1800 hours Eastern - 173 confirmed dead in VIC bushfires

Ja thats usually what happen. The Boere make a voorfire and the wind change direction and they all run for cover. Interesting tho that of the fynbos here can only spread their seed because of the extreme heat this fires brings. Here is impossible to find the cause of it because these Bergies love to make them a fire and when its really dry, broken glass can start them because of the heat.
 
R

rugbywhisperer

Guest
Re: Eighty Four confirmed dead in VIC bushfires

Lindommer said:
9:30am. Just heard the most appalling news: Rob Davey, the principal of Davey Wine Merchants, and his wife, Natasha and two little girls were found incinerated in their car on their property near Kinglake.
Devastated.
The Gold Coast Bulletin today has a full page on Rob Davey. Great article(s). PM me your details and I will send it to you.
 

PaarlBok

Rod McCall (65)
Re: Update 1800 hours Eastern - 173 confirmed dead in VIC bushfires

Saw in our news this morning they have arrested two suspects? ???
 

Pfitzy

Jason Little (69)
Re: Update 1800 hours Eastern - 173 confirmed dead in VIC bushfires

Was reading an article today about a bloke in victoria who cleared a decent firebreak around his house despite an order not to. $100K in court costs and fines later, he emerged from the recent fires with all his buildings and vehicles intact.

Here in Sydney I know Hornsby council threatened to fine a bloke $40K if he cleared some old eucalypts from his back fence. They were old, a hazard in high winds, and a fire risk. He cut them down and told the council to go get fucked.
 

cyclopath

Stirling Mortlock (74)
Staff member
Re: Update 1800 hours Eastern - 173 confirmed dead in VIC bushfires

NTA said:
Was reading an article today about a bloke in victoria who cleared a decent firebreak around his house despite an order not to. $100K in court costs and fines later, he emerged from the recent fires with all his buildings and vehicles intact.

Here in Sydney I know Hornsby council threatened to fine a bloke $40K if he cleared some old eucalypts from his back fence. They were old, a hazard in high winds, and a fire risk. He cut them down and told the council to go get fucked.
Some council people are tools. We are about to do some renovations. In the approval we had to pay $1K to remove a tree out the front to redo a driveway. Few months later I found a council crew removing it 1 morning, asked why, and was told it was dangerous cause it leant out over the road, and had to go. They still tried to get their $1K!!! I suggested they get fucked, which they eventually did. Bet if I'd said it was dangerous they'd have had a different story. I say good on the bloke in Vic.
 

barbarian

Phil Kearns (64)
Staff member
Re: Update 12th Feb - 181 confirmed dead in VIC bushfires

Miranda Devine gets stuck into the Greenies and Councils/Governments in her article in todays SMH. Here it is:

http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/green-ideas-must-take-blame-for-deaths-20090211-84mk.html

Pretty strong, but agree with the general sentiment that this was a disaster waiting to happen. No-one is strictly to blame for the deaths (except obviously the arsonists who lit them), but in hindsight there is no doubt more could have been done.
 

Cutter

Nicholas Shehadie (39)
Re: Update 12th Feb - 181 confirmed dead in VIC bushfires

barbarian said:
Miranda Devine gets stuck into the Greenies and Councils/Governments in her article in todays SMH. Here it is:

http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/green-ideas-must-take-blame-for-deaths-20090211-84mk.html

Pretty strong, but agree with the general sentiment that this was a disaster waiting to happen. No-one is strictly to blame for the deaths (except obviously the arsonists who lit them), but in hindsight there is no doubt more could have been done.

Miranda was always going to say that because if she was any further right she'd be driving into oncoming traffic and she sometimes drops a few hints that maybe, just maybe, she things this whole climate change thing is a beat up. Any chance to kick a greeny is happily taken.

Here is something a bit more interesting from a group who are independent and have more at stake than anyone.

http://www.smh.com.au/national/union-alert-disastrous-blazes-almost-every-year-20090212-85yz.html
Union alert: disastrous blazes almost every year
Ben Cubby Environment Reporter
February 13, 2009
A FIREFIGHTERS' union has called on the Federal Government to take urgent action against climate change, saying that current policy on greenhouse gas emissions would lead to disasters on the scale of the Victorian fires almost every year.

In an open letter to the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and the Victorian Premier, John Brumby, the union says its 13,000 members are at extreme risk as a result of Australia's plan to cut emissions by a "dismal" 5 per cent by 2020.

It is also seeking a national inquiry, broader than the royal commission being set up by the Brumby Government this week, to examine readiness to fight fires and apply lessons learned in the past week in Victoria to the rest of the country.

"Given the Federal Government's dismal 5 per cent greenhouse gas emissions cuts, the science suggests we are well on the way to guaranteeing that somewhere in the country there will be an almost annual repeat of the recent disaster and more frequent extreme weather events," wrote Peter Marshall, the national secretary of the United Firefighters Union of Australia.

The Government should try to halve emissions over the next decade and move urgently to encourage other nations to make big cuts, the union said.

"As we battle blazes here in Victoria, firefighters are busy rescuing people from floods in Queensland. Without a massive turnaround in policies, aside from the tragic loss of life and property, we will be asking firefighters to put themselves at an unacceptable risk."

The four-page letter cited research by the CSIRO, the Climate Institute and state bushfire councils that points to growing fire risks if temperatures creep up over the coming decades, as widely expected.

Catastrophic fires are expected to occur every five to seven years in Victoria by 2020, even under a "low global warming" scenario. Under scenarios of greater global warming, which most climate scientists think are more likely, some regions would be experiencing the conditions for catastrophic fires almost every year by 2050.

"Unfortunately, however, the scientists are advising that no matter what we do, a 'low global warming' scenario is almost inevitable, and so we must be making fire plans accordingly," Mr Marshall wrote.

The union believes existing resources would not cope with even the milder impacts of climate change.

It is developing a national plan, which it says will take into account firefighter training and settlement patterns on the urban fringes.
 

Pfitzy

Jason Little (69)
Re: Update 12th Feb - 181 confirmed dead in VIC bushfires

Perfect example of striking while the iron is hot. But did anyone think it was global warming in 1983 besides a few scientists?
 

Virgil

Larry Dwyer (12)
Re: Update 1800 hours Eastern - 173 confirmed dead in VIC bushfires

NTA said:
Was reading an article today about a bloke in victoria who cleared a decent firebreak around his house despite an order not to. $100K in court costs and fines later, he emerged from the recent fires with all his buildings and vehicles intact.

Here in Sydney I know Hornsby council threatened to fine a bloke $40K if he cleared some old eucalypts from his back fence. They were old, a hazard in high winds, and a fire risk. He cut them down and told the council to go get fucked.

They showed that on the news here, they are kiwis. Got convicted and everything. Basically ruined their lives.
Yet their house is one of the few still standing.
The councils over there should be held accountable for all the other home owners who wanted to cut down their surrounding trees but were bullied into not doing so.
 
J

Jury

Guest
Re: Update 12th Feb - 181 confirmed dead in VIC bushfires

I hope Rudd has the courage to clear out a few deadbeats in the civil service. If that's the case re: the council etc, they should be gone. You need pragmatic people - not ideologues - from one side or the other. If it's good practice to do x, y, z to prevent fires and essential that you have a fire shelter in areas prone to such occurrences, then do it.
 

Ash

Michael Lynagh (62)
Re: Update 12th Feb - 181 confirmed dead in VIC bushfires

Cutter said:
Miranda was always going to say that because if she was any further right she'd be driving into oncoming traffic and she sometimes drops a few hints that maybe, just maybe, she things this whole climate change thing is a beat up. Any chance to kick a greeny is happily taken.

Miranda Devine is a joke of a "journalist". She's as close to an Australian version of Ann Coulter as you'll get...and just the mention of Ann Coulter should be enough to start dry retching.

Notice in Devine's article she blames "greenies". Not the policy or government who did it, not the people who died who were against clearing. She just targeted greenies in general. Like most of her columns, Devine just takes broad swipes at what she calls the "loony left". And still, the dead haven't yet been buried and Devine pushes her own right agenda. It's rather sick. Especially the part where she seems to absolve the arsonists of all responsibility for relighting burnt out fires. Perhaps Devine should stand up in front of those families, with the caught arsonists, and then let the arsonists go free as apparently they weren't responsible for the loss of life. But I Lee Grant.

(I normally try to not read Devine columns, but sometimes they present them as serious news and not opinion, and don't show the author until too late. My personal favourite Devine column was one written about 1 - 2 years ago where she had an interview with Gen. Petraeus (or whatever his name is) and loudly proclaimed that the war in Iraq had been "won". And then there's the time in about 2001 where she basically accused ABC foreign correspondant Jonathon Harley of lying whilst in Afganistan for no particular reason. Unfortunately for her he had proof.)

However, to be fair, Devine wasn't the first one to say that. The first one was a Liberal MP (Moana Pasifika) who called for more logging due to the oversupply of fuel. Not for clearing or controlled burns. Extra logging. No prices for guessing which lobby pays his bills.

Back on the topic of back burning and clearing, my personal view is that owners should be able to clear within a certain area to their house within reason. When I grew up in Brisbane, our house backed onto a small bush and the council every few years would turn up and keep about a 20m - 30m area clear from our backyear to the bush. Made sense to me then, makes sense now. As does controlled back burning and controlled areas between towns and heavy bush. But I think that widespread burning and/or reduction over large scale bushland won't solve the problem and seems like a knee jerk reaction.
 
J

Jury

Guest
Re: Update 12th Feb - 181 confirmed dead in VIC bushfires

Yep. I started dry retching at the name of Ann Coulter. If she's the Australian version of her, I wouldn't even bother reading anything that she comes up with.
 
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