Australian fires

I have a lot of readers and regular commenters in Australia. I actually don’t know where most of them live. I just wanted to take a moment to say that I hope you are all safe. Being a Californian, I know that, even if you do not live in direct harm’s way, the smoke and the accompanying weather can make life difficult during these emergencies. Be safe, and be well.

6 thoughts on “Australian fires

  1. Thanks, Matthew. That is very thoughtful of you.

    We do get reports of California fires every summer, and they seem to be ferocious and extensive.

    I am very conscious of fire danger because I lost several friends in the Black Saturday fires of 2009. I live in the Shire of Nillumbik on the edge of Melbourne. One day this area will burn again. It’s just a matter of when. Only a wind change in 2009 stopped it happening then. The evacuation suitcases are packed in December, as are the boxes of dog things and the file of important papers.

    The Bundoora/Mill Park/Greensborough fire of recent days was quite close, but the real suffering in Victoria is in East Gippsland where people are having a horrendous time. It is even worse in NSW. I’ve never before seen so much coverage of Australia on foreign news services, such as those of the PBS and the BBC.

    A lot of lessons were learned from Black Saturday. The communication system now is excellent. I check the emergency website regularly throughout summer and, if away from home, I check via my phone. There is a fire danger rating system, and it is displayed on electronic signs along our highways. Normally such systems would go very low/low/moderate/high/very high, like bell curve. Here it goes low-moderate/high/very high/severe/extreme/code red (I think the last is called catastrophic in other states); i.e., one low-moderate level and five high levels. That tells you how bad it can be. The website tells us when fires have started, how big they are, what sort of threat they present and what our response should be, the last being the chilling “it is too late to leave”. It refreshes extremely fast.

    Anyway, I’m safe. I hope all other readers are too.

    • Thank you, Chris. Stay safe.

      And I am sorry about the friends lost in 2009. That is really terrible.

      Our communication and warning systems are much improved. But given that we now have power shutoffs in high-risk areas (I am not in one, as of now), those systems can be taken off line along with the power in the even of high winds and critical fire risk.

      • Thank you, Matthew. It was a great loss.

        Yes, communications can fail in disasters. A battery-powered radio is a good back-up.

  2. Thanks, Matthew. Sometimes it feels a little like being trapped in The Year of the Angry Rabbit:


    blockquote>In a temporary lapse of brilliance, Sir Alan Jacks suggests that [Prime Minister of Australia] Fitzgerald weaponize Supermyxamatosis and conquer the world. Fitzgerald does just that: after nuking the Bludgerton property to prevent the rabbit outbreak (and having the scientists committed so that word of the threat never comes to light), he has Supermyx bombs planted in every country; as a demonstration of power, he wipes out the entire populations of two countries who refuse to stop warring with each other. This results in total nuclear disarmament, the exile of all nuclear physicists to a doomed island, and an eventual end to conventional warfare. Wars are soon conducted as harmless arena games which are heavily promoted like the Olympics. Fitzgerald has all weapon factories shut down, but this quickly threatens the world economy, so he decrees the factories continue producing weapons of warfare, which are then summarily dumped into the ocean. Surprisingly, Fitzgerald’s seemingly ridiculous plans actually work: world peace finally becomes a reality for three years.

    As Supermyx cannot travel across bodies of water, Australia is completely safe from its own superweapons; however, the Supermyx-carrying Bludgerton Rabbits (now giant from atomic radiation) refuse to go away, and keep resurfacing time and again, threatening to overwhelm Australia and wipe out its population. The rabbits eventually become too numerous to contain, and Australia wages a one-sided war against the numberless brood. Fitzgerald is killed, and the entire continent is evacuated, leaving Australia to the aborigines, who eventually summon a flood to destroy the rabbits. The novel ends with the implication that the remaining Supermyx bombs will be detonated, wiping humanity from the face of the earth.



    Somehow it was made into a completely apolitical horror movie, The Night of the Lepus. It bombed totally because it’s quite hard to make even a giant mutant rabbit look menacing on screen.

  3. Thanks, Matthew. It is really heartening that people care. The prayers are well meant but…I really appreciate the loan of firefighters. Those guys are my heroes. I live in a rural area and the fire front is very close, so this means a lot to me.

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