The tragedy of the NSW fires


Sue Dunlop and her husband lose their home of 41 years on Buena Vista Road, Winmalee.

It’s risky business:

‘The house is on fire, we’re not going to save it’

As Sue Dunlop stood in the blackened rubble of the home she lived in for the past 41 years, the ferocity of Thursday’s firestorm became painfully clear.

“You live in the bush. You live by the rules of the bush, and that’s it,” Mrs Dunlop reflected, as trees and scrub continued to burn around her in her backyard on Friday morning.

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There, but for the Grace of God …

The bush in Australia is around the fringes mainly and across the top but the top is not dry – it’s warm and humid. When you hear of bushfires, it’s normally the southern half, the warm temperate zone with much forest.

In Melbourne, for example, there is the city proper and the burbs spreading out like the spokes of a wheel and then the forest [bush] starts to close in. The middle-class, artists etc. often have retreats or even homes out in the bush – in Eltham, Ferntree Gully etc and the attraction is greater natural beauty in the area – it truly is a most beautiful part of the world to live in.

There was a vid of a man standing near his burnt dream yesterday and the firefighter hurried him away because of the smoke danger. Gutted, like his home – that’s what it was like.

Insurance? Well, yes and no. The poorer people – and there is an Appalachian type community out there – they’ve lost all.

I also, selfishly perhaps, look at this wooden boat of mine and realize it too could go up just like that. Insured, yes but that still doesn’t make up for the work and the insurance firms never give full price.

In Australia, as that lady said – the risk is always a known-known, it’s always there in Oz.

5 Responses to “The tragedy of the NSW fires”

  1. Amfortas October 18, 2013 at 08:51 Permalink

    Our population may be spread thin over an enormous continent, but we are few and the heart is where the home is. The fires are always close to home here.

    There is not much chance of Indonesia, our nearest neighbour and its 200 million plus people helping our 20 million plus out.

    When the tsunami struck some years back the taxpayers coughed up one Billion bucks and then chucked another Billion in the charity hat. But no-one sends us monies for all our homes and lives lost.

    Down in Tas we are still squabbling over the tiny relief we allowed ourselves for the 100 plus homes destroyed less than a year ago.

    Oz is a place of fire and flood and drought. Extremes. Throw in the annual cyclone season on the east coast and the north west coast and the destruction they cause and one can almost imagine what Oz will (not) look like in 1000 years. Not a bit like Europe that’s for sure.

  2. ivan October 18, 2013 at 10:10 Permalink

    I was on the volunteer bush fire brigade when I lived in the Blue Mountains and have seen at first hand what a bush fire can do.

    For that reason my yard was always clean of anything that could burn well and the gutters were always cleaned out. I learned that from an old couple that had seen the other houses in their road burned to the ground twice before while theirs only had the paint blistered.

  3. James Higham October 18, 2013 at 13:32 Permalink

    Amfortas, as you’d know – Australia is a hostile environment [despite the cute animals]. Burke and Wills.

    If you fly from Melbn to Siddenai or vicky verka, once leaving the city, even in the most populous part of Oz, it’s quite remote before Melb’n.

    Coming down from Japan or nearby, it really is nothing, just as in Russia but at least Russia has towns.

    Ivan, it’s bloody frightening.

  4. richard October 18, 2013 at 22:49 Permalink

    “Wild weather spreads bushfires” There but for the grace of God? It would be more graceful if He contained the conflagration instead of making it worse. But anyway, let’s hope no-one else gets killed. At least houses can be rebuilt, sad though it is.

  5. James Higham October 19, 2013 at 06:13 Permalink

    Oh, beautiful lead-in to a Sunday post, Richard, thx. :)

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