Tragic day in Victoria…

My heart and thoughts go out to all those that have lost so much through this event as it continues to unfold.

Feburary 7, 2009 – a tragic day in Victorian history. High temperatures soaring across the state and blistering gale force winds. Fires continue to rage across the state as I type, towns leveled,communities shattered and peoples lives changed forever. Massive bushfires continue to rage – it’s almost unbelievable. From the states west through to Gippsland.  14 confirmed deceased with fears that number could rise into the 40’s come daybrealk today.

 Temperatures soared across the state with most districts reaching the mid 40’s. Melbourne recording 46.4C – the highest  ever in any capital city. Far western suburbs such as Avalon topping at 47.8C. Whilst unofficial guagings in the NW of the state in the 49-50C range ( ! ) Here on the South Gippsland coast was not spared with max temperatures in the 45.4 vicinity. Windgusts across the state  peaking around the 115km/h range… A day that everyone knew that could be disaterous was realised. Over 400 fires across the state in 1 day (sadly numerous deliberately lit), with a dozen major blazes – many of which became fatal and heavy property losses.

 I won’t touch too much on the fires and tragic losses outside of Gippsland in this post at this stage. 

 At present a massive blaze continues to rage through the SE Strzelcki ranges – now consuming some 40 000 hectares in around 12 or so hours. This fire starting some 10km’s from where last weeks blaze burnt. I sincerely hope this was not the work of arsen again.Burning basically from the Latrobe Valley to the coast in a line from Churchil to near Yarram and east of there. This blaze is close to my heart in particular. Not only is this a region of some of my favourite rainforests anywhere and memories – a place that I frequently spend exploratory and photographic adventures. A region where we had our last farm with my late father, where we built a house in the foothills in the locality of Devon Nth. Phonecalls last night reveal it is all flattened. My friends and workcollegues house we built down the road from this farm a few years ago that they only sold 2months – gone. Other Friend’s that work with us sometimes having lost their family home as well.  The most important thing is that there are yet to be any reported fatalities from this district or fire. Daybreak may reveal less positive news though….

 North of this complex numerous other fires rage in West Gippsland threatening communities and towns in so many areas.There is almost too many and much for me to compile in this region at this stage. I’ll try to write more on these fires and a couple fo the other devastating blazes in this post at a later date.

Once again My heart and thoughts to all those affected and that have lost so much already.


** update :  amazing coverage from ABC with footage and images from around Victoria can be found HERE

**update : Devastating arial footage of the once gorgeous town of Marysville NE of Melbourne HERE

**update 5pm 8-02-2008 : Death toll now offically at 50 with many more expected – 9  confirmed in the Strzelecki fires this afternoon with many more expected here alone as crews become able to attempt to work there way into the ranges. – Sheer tragedy and devastation. I like many Victorians still feel in a state of disbelief.  Some of the stories of tragedy and survival from the last 24hrs in Victoria are beyond comprehension.

 550 homes confrimed lost in what is now known as the Kinglake complex alone as 2 massive blazes have joined NE of Melbourne. This combined fire now having burnt some 210 000 hectares in not much more than 24hrs. The Strzelecki blazes estimated to have burnt 35 000 hectares in 18hrs.

I feel the death toll from this day of pure hell may well become the highest in the countries history (I think TC Tracey in Darwin took 72lives). I also feel there porperty loss will go over 2000homes.Not to mention the loss of property,outbuildings,infrastructure,stock,animals,wildlife,flora and fauna.

This is likely to become the most tragic natural disater in Australia’s history. Whilst this may sound horrible for all those that have lost so much, but I feel we are perhaps lucky…lucky that the windchange didn’t come an hour or two later. This may have very well allowed those 80-120km/h north winds push these firestorms on to rage,spot and devastate their way into or through higher populated areas such as the beautiful Dandenong ranges and far NE-E burbs of Melbourne. If this had occurred I could not even imagine what the toll and devastation on all scales would be…I don’t want to… – It is beyond comprehension as it is.



Latest news can be followed via ABC radio on news online from HERE

**update 5:30pm 8-02-2008 :  The tragic toll now upto 65 confirmed – saddened and speechless. Buildings can be re-built but human life can’t.   😦

**update 9:30pm 8-02-2008 :  I hate too see this appear as a toll count but perhaps it is a bit of a tragic reality of this event… Latest news has the terrible number of people perished now at 76. Amongst the latest news is former ch.9 news anchor man Brian Naylor missing and his wife confirmed to have past in the Kinglake area. Having met Brian and his wife a number of years ago as we built them a home in the beautiful part of the Hedley range (part of the Strzelecki ranges). I recall him and his wife being fantastic people and I would enjoy conversing with them on all sorts of travel stories when they would arrive at their property.  NEWS STORY

**update 5:00pm 9-02-2008 : Latest human toll from the tragedy is upto 131 with it certain to continue to rise. People still searching and praying for unaccounted loved ones.

 Currently 52 fires still going across the state. With the Kinglake complex being the largest with a fire front estimated at 100km in length.  The Strzelecki fires continue to threaten communities. A new fire started at Wilson’s Prom yesterday arvo and I have since heard that the prom has been evacuated as resuorces are stretched to the limit.


~ by Tony Middleton on February 8, 2009.

12 Responses to “Tragic day in Victoria…”

  1. I guess you would have been copping a bit of smoke yesterday mate.
    And I saw the pyrocumulus build at kinglake on weatherzone last night.

    I cannot comprehend the loss of life, the figures are staggering. Our state government told us to prepare for the worst, so many late decisions made by people, cost so dearly. The CFA and DSE continue to campaign and there is still that small minority expecting that CFA truck to turn up and save there house.

    Sad about the old farm, and it sounds like hundreds of homes were lost.

    Lets hope weather permits so they can get these fires contained.


  2. Hi Tom,
    There wasn’t much smoke on the coast but just inland there was massive plumes all day from the bunyip/kilmore/kinglake etc blazes. I could see very impressive PyroCu’s going up from a distance (~70km) at stages. Then last night these became lightning active with some pretty weird looking CG and CC lightning. There has been 3 more bands of storms in my area this morning still running on those NW->SE trajectory as the lines progress east. some rain…enough to wet the ground which probably has doubled our totals for the YTD….
    I’m still waiting for more news from Devon nth and our old neighbours and the Strzelecki’s – not much coverage on this fire/region to date.
    Did you see the footage from Marysville this morning ? Incinerated….next to mothing left !

    The Strzelecki blaze now estimated at 90 000hectares in 18hrs and still threatening a number of communities….

    best of luck,

  3. Very sad… let’s hope that they get the fires under control as soon as possible.

    There are some amazing pics in that link you posted, Tony.

    Cheers for sharing.

  4. […] another note, Tony Middleton has written an extremely poignant post about what is happening with the bush fires in Victoria.   […]

  5. No problems Beau – I really wish I could go into the areas and help these people in whatever way possible. Even if it’s just a shoulder to hold for a bit. Maybe later in the week things will settle enough and be re-opened and we may be able to go in and do something other than monetary type donations. I have been trying to find a suposed facility on the ABC site to add things you can offer, ie accomodation, agistment etc.

  6. […] another note, Tony Middleton has written an extremely poignant post about what is happening with the bush fires in Victoria.   […]

  7. Having just read your post, the and checked out your links I am stunned. I have never seen bushfire on that scale, that is like a war zone. 65 confirmed dead I read and lots of places destroyed. So sad. My heart goes out to everyone there, hope you get some relief from the fire and wind.

  8. Tony,

    I have seen some of the footage on the TV and it seems devastating.

    I keep wondering why some people would light these fires and why its so hot in Victoria this year.

  9. My eyes were glued to the tv news all afternoon.
    Tony, all the best to you and your family/friends.

  10. Flem – cheers mate, the devastation and toll will continue to rise with more horror stories and escape accounts come tomorrow.

    James – I have no idea why either, serious mental issues…

    Luke – cheers mate, we are all fine and where we reside these days is not a fire area. Many more have lost the most precious gift of all… 😦

  11. I am shocked by this – just like most of us. I’m also thankful the weather has changed to give everyone a chance in battling the front.

  12. My step mum knows people who lost their lives in these fires. It truly is a horrible time in our history and it hurts to imagine what those poor people are going through!
    My dad and step mum live in woodend and have had to rethink their fire plan which was before last weekend, to stay but conditions like that… life is more important.

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