Every hour, the death toll mounts in Australia. This savage firestorm outruns its victims and there are many tragic stories from this inferno. The fires that are ravaging this part of Australia are very much like fires in California. And both Australia and California’s governments should have more mandates for dealing with fire hazards. There is no excuse for not having fire shelters available. Just like we need tornado shelters in the US. Every time a family dies in trailer, this angers me since they should also be sheltered.
UPDATE 12:38pm A DOCTOR treating burns victims at The Alfred says the magnitude of the disaster is worse than the Bali bombings.
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UPDATE 1:50pm STRONG wind gusts are fanning flames across Victoria with dozens of towns on high alert.
The Herald Sun has excellent video coverage that is well-laid out and easy to use. Please watch the news. Here is just one example of many tragedies:
FOUR children are among the tragic victims of the Victoria’s worst bushfires on record.
Mum Rebecca Buchanan lost her son “Macca” Mackenzie, 15, her only daughter Neeve, 9, and her brother Danny Clark, 37, in the Kinglake maelstrom.
Ms Buchanan’s mother, Jenny Clark, is seriously injured in hospital with burns to 30 per cent of her body after she tried desperately to save her beloved grandchildren.
Two young girls visiting from down the street also died as the group huddled inside Mrs Clark’s home.
Bendigo fire victim Kevin “Mick” Kane’s family desperately tried to save him but were forced back by hellish flames and blistering heat.
Mr Kane’s sister Jill and her boyfriend Michael Ryan had to do the unthinkable and leave their collapsed and unconscious loved one behind lying on the ground as the inferno engulfed the Long Gully home.
I like to read people’s comments, often, good ideas are found in these places:
In the past, we had a saying “30/30/30” In effect, it meant if it was 30 degrees (at least), with 30 kph winds (or more) and the fire was within 30 kms, then it was time to get out. Don’t stay. Have your car and perhaps trailer already packed with essentials, round up the family and pets, lock up the house and go. Houses and property can be insured – families and pets can’t.
Posted by: ray cashmore of melbourne 2:39pm today
Comment 212 of 214
Maybe on average bush fires hit areas of southern Australia once every few generations, but maybe the fire-prone communities should consider building underground shelters similar to the bomb shelters they had during the war. Some houses in England had their own make-shift shelter in the back yard, just a big hole dug in the ground, shored up with planks, a plank roof covered by sods of earth, and steps leading down to a door.
Posted by: Colin den Ronden of Philippines 2:30pm today
Comment 207 of 214
My heart goes out to all whom have lost families and homes etc!!!! This is a terrible tragedy, so let us learn from this horrifc experience. When we build homes why can’t we think of fire safety. In homes and ara around our lives…. In Cyclone areas they build Cyclone proof homes, in Tornado area they have safety areas. So why can’t we build SAFE Fire Boxes under ground so this will never happen again. We have all these safety issues at work, but waht about the most important factors of our lives our families, home and environment. I hope we can learn from this, so that we never ever see this again.
Posted by: Lyn of Melb 2:17pm today
Comment 201 of 21
As a teenager I lived through being exacuated from our home in Woodend on the night of Ash Wednesday ……. the fire wsas not far away but in the end we were not directly affected by the fire but it was the most terrifying night of my life so the thought of prople being trapped in the middle of this with no way of getting out just makes me feel numb. If there is anything to come out of this with respect to re-building then I agree with MarkH about the requirement to include some sort of fire shelter in the design of new homes, it will add afew $ to the house costs but maybe the government could provide grants to toward the construction costs or local councils could off-set it against rates …etc as an incentive ?? As for those in this forum focusing on the political aspects of this disaster, maybe a good idea if you all went out to the kitchen and got yourselves a good cup of perspective …………. you know who you are ……. Maybe the resources of the army could be better used in the fire season, there was surely an oportunity for evacuation helicopters and the like to be used once the authorities realised the magnitude of the fires ahead of them …. something for the decison makers to consider in the post disaster de-briefings maybe ….. My heart goes out to those that are homeles or are still searching for loved ones after this terrible couple of days …………..
Posted by: stuart of Melbourne 1:15pm today
Comment 181 of 214
All, very good suggestions and exactly what I am thinking. Weather News: Santa Ana Wind Storms Regularly Burn California
I don’t know if this is from the latest fires. It looks like it might be. All the fires in California when the hot winds blow, are very explosive. Year after year, the same thing happens to the same places. But not exactly the same places. Since the fires that happened six months or two years earlier have burned out most of the big brush and kindling, the new fires are in slightly new neighborhoods which were missed in earlier firestorm events.
My family has lived in California ever since we took it via warfare, from Mexico. We have lived through many firestorms and earthquakes. Generally speaking, the most common way of dealing with this is to ignore it and then run like hell when it happens. This was OK 130 years ago. Today, the place is mobbed with people and running away is problematic.
I watched the fires this last 24 hours on You Tube. One person took his little child out to film the fires! He and his son stood around as fire engines roared up their cul de sac road and then turn around. Then the flames leaped over the hills and the man stood at a gas station, filming this and chatting with his child! Gah! Talk about insanity. Meanwhile, cars cluttered the streets and made the fire engines crawl along. In many places, people act like this is normal and so they don’t get out of the way of the fire fighters. But the nature of these fires in such violent winds is, it can suddenly happen a mile down the road!
Some of the survivors said, they had less than five minutes to run. Below are photos of people who died, as their cars blew up, often, after crashing into each other.
So tragic! The cars in the above picture didn’t blow up, I do hope the people survived in this multi-car crash. Above all, getting into a car to outrun a fast-moving fire is suicidal. Nothing is more explosive than a car. Gasoline is designed to be an ‘accelerant,’ after all. This is why the cars can go fast. Now, let’s look at the destroyed houses:
This picture clearly shows how houses blew up and burned while the surrounding trees were barely troubled by the fires! This is a clue that something is very wrong with the way we do our houses! If we look at films of houses exploding into fireballs, it is obvious that the nature of modern residences are very flammable. The other feature of houses is, the trees might not ignite and the fire might skip over it but not the houses: every house, even when totally surrounded by trees that were untouched, burned totally to the ground and burned a long, long time, again, unlike the trees. I fear that the ventilation systems are responsible for sucking in burning embers and embedding them inside the houses.
Even in this neighborhood which saw most of the trees burned, not all of the trees were burned, about one quarter of them seem untouched. Yet, every single house was totally destroyed.
This is totally unacceptable! I once owned a brownstone that had a sprinkler system in every room on every floor. There is no way a house of this sort would burn down! After huge fires like the Great Chicago fires, NYC passed much stricter rules concerning fire control. It isn’t all that expensive, putting these things into houses! People spent trillions of dollars across the planet, making their houses bigger and fancier. But I bet virtually none put in simple protection devices like sprinkler systems, for example. Above all, one needs this in attic spaces! As well as a system to automatically shut vents so they don’t allow outside airflows during fire hazards, for example.
Most building codes tend to be minimalist, not maximum. Only when people demand more, do they get more. Especially when it comes to plumbing.
This video above, is all about a previous, nearly identical situation occurred in the same general location. 25 years later, no one moved to install fire hazard safe havens. These are not all that difficult to design, it is basically a bomb shelter, after all. Most fires don’t last more than an hour, if even that. They sweep past and only the houses end up burning for very long. These shelters can even be group shelters! The point is, this is not all that expensive or hard to do. How many dead could have lived? The family at the top of this story who left dying children on the floor as they were forced out of the house that now ignited, these children would still be alive. Are they worth it?
Of course! And California and other states prone to fires should also consider these lessons. Please, install sprinkler systems in houses! At least that!
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