Sunday 20 October 2013

Bushfire season in Australia

It's bushfire season here in Australia, and it's going to be a ripper this year.  Conditions are already perfect for whipping up enormous fires - hot, clear weather, high winds, and lots of dry dry grass, trees and other plants to fuel the hungry beast.

This post is, I guess, more for the benefit of those reading who are not in NSW or Australia - there's been close to saturation news coverage here of the fires.

Since last Wednesday, over 200 families have lost their houses, mostly in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney.  More people are being told to leave their homes and seek shelter tonight.  Last I heard, over 40,000 hectares of land has been burned out, just in the Blue Mountains! There are also fires burning on the Central Coast and Newcastle areas north of Sydney, in the Illawarra south of Sydney, and in the Southern Highlands south west of Sydney.  This is a photo taken by a Channel 7 cameraman, Paul Walker, of the largest fire near the town of Lithgow in the Blue Mountains:

Photo credit to Paul Walker, Channel 7 News
Firefighters are doing an unbelievable job to save towns and houses, farms and animals. A lot of the firefighting is being done by the Rural Fire Service, which is chiefly staffed by volunteers.  They are doing a lot of backburning around towns and properties under threat to try and stop the advance of the fires by starving them of fuel. Here's what the RFS managed to achieve with backburning around Raymond Terrace:

Photo credit to Barry O'Farrell (@barryofarrell)
Conditions are forecast to get worse over the next few days, with heat and winds increasing. A little rain is forecast, but it'll just be like spitting on the fires rather than being any use to actually put it out!

While we are safe in the city, there is lots of smoke and debris around.  This was the view from our balcony last Thursday:

Please keep in your thoughts the firefighters as they do their work and the people who are having to make terrible decisions about leaving their houses, as well as those returning to burned out towns and properties. It's times like these you realise that no matter how much we wrangle and reshape nature, she is always in charge!

If you can help financially, these are the three main organisations accepting donations now:

On a more cheerful note, tomorrow I am going to start making gravadlax, a Swedish cured salmon, and I will take lots of pictures of that process for you!

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