Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Fireburned Country

11 February 2014

It is said that fire is a part of the Australian natural cycle. in fact, many native plants require being exposed to fire to snap open their seed pods to propagate. So bushfires are not exactly unusual.

What has been unusual is the tendency for bushfires to turn into firestorms like the one that took so many lives and destroyed entire communities and townships only five years ago. The fear that given the right conditions any fire has the same potential is now a part of our lives and a City shrouded in a blanket of acrid smoke as it was today is a stark reminder.

Yesterday, a young mum recounted her story of survival as she and her children sought the protection of their dam as the fire swept over their property. Submerged up to their necks in water, with a wet blanket over their heads as the only protection against the flames passing over them.

Which brings me to the point of this post. There are men and women who willingly join the local fire brigade with the sole purpose of being trained and 'ready and able' when the fires come. What goes through their mind as they put on their fire protection gear I wonder. As they hoist them selves on board of the water tanker and speed off to face the flames head on.

Personally, I would rather prefer to be as far away from a bushfire as I can get. For the life of me, I can not think of a single reason why I would face a fire that can burn my skin off at a distance of 200 meters.

Nevertheless, that does not stop me from being entirely in awe of our fire fighters, who put their lives on the line in an exhausting effort to protect lives and properties and livestock.

This note is from a picture accompanying the story on the ABC News website in which Victorian firefighter Frank Amaroso left a letter for one home owner apologising for being unable to do more.

Frank Amaroso is the Captain of Wandong Rural Fire Brigade

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