As The World Burns…
So random. Anyway…
I’ve a very close friend in South Australia who has been witness to the wildfires firsthand and has been recounting to me his experiences with them. It’s always more accurate it seems to get news from those there rather than via mass media which a lot of the time relies on other sources for its own reporting. If you recall that child’s game “Operator,” you’ll recall that information becomes more and more distorted as it goes down the line.
This then is what my friend says about the fires…
February 9, I received the following from him:
“The fires have been terrible here. The worst part is a large amount of them were purposly lit. We even had a 19 y/o volunteer firey going behind the burn front relighting them… Fire departments do attract pyro’s though.
The toll will likely reach above 200 people. Easily. The largest ER hospital in Australia ran our of Morphine and is calling on other states to donate what they can in terms of medical aid. So while we’re up to 180 deaths, the seriously injured is above that number.
Two family friends were lost protecting their properties. It was all they had, and they tried to defend it, but a quick wind change and they were caught. I’m heading over next week to help out where I can. There’s not much to salvage, but it’s to help their own families and do what I can for them. I’ll take some leave from work to do it.
A lot of foreign press aren’t understanding why people are losing their lives. Comparing the bushfires we’re having to the forest fires of California and the fact there’s little loss of life. Saying we’re not doing something right. Bushifres often have windspeeds of 130kmph (around 70mph). So the fires travel that speed too. A lof of deaths were people fleeing in cars down the highways, only to be overtaken by the flames. You can’t escape it if you’re down-wind from it, and the winds are squalls so there’s rapid wind direction changes (you’re nautical, you’d understand that).
I’ve experienced and 800 meter tall hill be engulfed in flames and destroyed within 20 minutes. A prime example of how dangerous hot air rising can be. The areas effected are very hilly. Some very remote. Aussies are very fire conscious because of the conditions most of us endure. hell, it’s been up to 48c here in Adelaide. Like having a blow driver in your face. Mix that with drought conditions, no humidity and CG lightning strikes as weather troughs pass by… perfect formula for fires. And aussie trees germinate in fires, so they’re natural kindling for them. Always been the case, clean with fire, bring forth new life.
Anyway. It’s the worst natural disaster Australia has experienced. And as some are suggesting, someone is the biggest mass murdered Australia has ever had. Gods help them if anyone finds them before the authorities do. With close to 1000 people losing everything, the fire-bugs life is on the line.
Well, most of my family and what few friends I have are all in Victoria, so that’s been a distraction from the suffering I’m going through. Petty in comparison, but I still feel entitled to feel sorry for myself when I’m not worrying for others.
Hope all is well with you, and hope to hear from you again soon.”
Hope all is well with me? Don’t worry about me – you’re the one I’m worried about! He also sent over a couple photos that he took on his friend’s property.
February 11, he was packing up to head into a hard-hit area to offer assistance, and he wrote to me… “Missing you very much too. And there’s no need to worry, I’ll stay safe. There’s nothing left except spot fires where I’ll be going. Worst danger is roots still smouldering underground and starting something, but there’s around 400 personnel around to address that.”
February 19, the first I’d heard from him in 8 days and I had been very concerned… “Hi Hon, Nothing to worry about, I just got back from being there the last few days. Not exactly any network connectivity over there at the moment, so I was unable to get online. Tough times over there, but people are coming together and giving them the help they can.”
Yesterday, I asked him what news from the outback, and what he told me was more valuable than anything I have read in the media. The amazing thing to me is – this is a friend, someone close to me, and he is a drop in this historic disaster. Even the small bit of assistance he gave I’m sure has touched someone who will never forget him:
“The fires were horrible. News is barely reporting on them even though they’re still going on. Still being lit, and the weather is still encouraging them. When I went over there, I helped get donations (food, clothing, day to day living things) out to people. I spent 2 days in a neighbourhood helping residents scavenge through their ruins, it was horrible, I felt as though I was just stumbling through an incredibly intimate moment that just dragged on and on. But I managed to help a few families search and salvage some mementos of and clear away the rubble so they could start to rebuild.
That’s the amazing part. So many of them aren’t moving on. They’re sucking it up and just rebuilding. “There’s other worse” says the father who’s lost everything. How the fuck could it get any worse for you, you silly bastard? These people are strong.”