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Author Topic: Australian bushfires  (Read 2023 times)

Inlander

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Australian bushfires
« on: 07 Feb 2009, 23:48 »

http://www.abc.net.au/news/events/bushfires/

I hope everyone's okay, and that all your family and friends are okay, too. Oh, and everyone up in Queensland, too: I hope you're coping with the floods.

Stay safe, everyone.

On a personal note, I'm worried about my housemate. She's at her mum's house near Healesville, about 20 minutes away from Marysville, which was wiped out by the fires. I spoke to her on Facebook earlier today and she seemed okay, though worried, and I haven't heard anything about Healesville being hit so far, but all the same I'll be anxious until I hear from her again.

EDIT: Oh, and the Red Cross has set up an appeal: http://www.redcross.org.au/vic/services_emergencyservices_victorian-bushfires-appeal-2009.htm.
« Last Edit: 07 Feb 2009, 23:51 by Inlander »
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tommydski

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Re: Australian bushfires
« Reply #1 on: 08 Feb 2009, 19:57 »

Someone on BBC News 24 mentioned that this could legitimately be arson.

It literally blows my mind that anyone could deliberately visit this kind of horrific, wanton destruction on anyone/anything/anywhere.

I sort of hope it doesn't turn out to be true.
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Re: Australian bushfires
« Reply #2 on: 08 Feb 2009, 20:14 »

A cigarette butt could be to blame for one, and there have been reports that people have been going back and relighting fires after fire crews have left in other places. There are rumours flying about that one of the major fire were deliberately lit, and some of the survivors have been saying that the arsonists better hope that the police find them first.

126 people have died, and it's speculated that the death toll could exceed 200. Worst fires in Australian history.
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tommydski

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Re: Australian bushfires
« Reply #3 on: 08 Feb 2009, 20:17 »

I mean obviously the loss of human life is horrific in itself but the damage to the infrastructure of these places and the environment as a whole is absolutely catastrophic.

This sucks. I don't know what to say. What can anyone say in situations like this?
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Re: Australian bushfires
« Reply #4 on: 08 Feb 2009, 21:42 »

Actually, fires usually have a pretty positive effect upon the Australian environment. A few of our trees use fire to germinate, and the removal of dead scrub is pretty good. Obviously, in this situation it is a tragedy, but small, controlled fires will help the environment prosper and reduce the chances of huge, life threatening fires in the future.
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Re: Australian bushfires
« Reply #5 on: 08 Feb 2009, 22:59 »

All 128 deaths have been in Victoria despite over 50 different fires in NSW.
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Re: Australian bushfires
« Reply #6 on: 08 Feb 2009, 23:05 »

Victoria is on fire and Queensland is too  wet. What the fuck, God.

Having lived in and near bushfire danger zones, I have nothing but empathy for the poor bastards shitting themselves right now, and for the families and friends of the people killed. And I usually don't go in for this whole 'show of support on the internet for victims of a tragedy", but damn man, bushfires are basically the fucking scariest thing.
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Re: Australian bushfires
« Reply #7 on: 08 Feb 2009, 23:43 »

Yeah, we had some fires on the Central Coast when I was back up there this weekend. Thankfully they didn't get too bad.

I read that thing about someone re-lighting the fires after the fire brigade had put them out as well. I hope that's just the media reporting speculation, 'cause man that's a seriously fucked up thing to do. 
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Re: Australian bushfires
« Reply #8 on: 09 Feb 2009, 22:22 »

Here are various photographs taken of the fires, and the areas that the fire has left.

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/02/bushfires_in_victoria_australi.html
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Re: Australian bushfires
« Reply #9 on: 09 Feb 2009, 22:26 »

These seem to happen in cycles, just like the yearly outbursts of forest fires on the U.S's west coast. After awhile, you kind of become inured to it you know? When I hear about something like this nowadays, I feel for the people, but on the whole it barely even phases me.

I've heard it tossed around that these fires can actually be beneficial, in a cleansing way--clearing out dead trees, brush, etc. Any basis to that?
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johnny5

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Re: Australian bushfires
« Reply #10 on: 09 Feb 2009, 22:27 »

i thought the california ones were bad, but i guess you guys also have 110+ degree weather. the fires must be moving fast
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Inlander

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Re: Australian bushfires
« Reply #11 on: 09 Feb 2009, 22:33 »

Parts of Victoria have had 40+ degree Centigrade weather for days on end, and that combined with the severest drought on record and the natural flammability of the Australian bush, plus strong winds on Saturday (plus, unfortunately, a touch of arson - though this was by no means the cause of all the fires) meant that the conditions were nightmarish for fires. And on top of that all, Victoria has a pretty high population density by Australian standards.

Fires are definitely a seasonal thing here: basically no Australian summer is complete without bushfire alerts. But these fires are above and beyond anything anyone here has ever experienced. In case anyone's wondering about the sheer ferocity of the fires, check out this photo: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/02/bushfires_in_victoria_australi.html#photo23.
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Re: Australian bushfires
« Reply #12 on: 09 Feb 2009, 22:40 »

Besides speculation that arson may have occurred, do they have any idea what motives might be involved?  Could it be a crazy extremist political stunt of some kind, or just wanton destruction?

Either way, it's pretty fucked up.
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Re: Australian bushfires
« Reply #13 on: 09 Feb 2009, 22:45 »

Holy shit, those pictures.
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Re: Australian bushfires
« Reply #14 on: 09 Feb 2009, 22:57 »

I've heard it tossed around that these fires can actually be beneficial, in a cleansing way--clearing out dead trees, brush, etc. Any basis to that?

Well yes, you really want a bit of a bushfire every 3-4 years in order to make way for the growth of new trees, but usually backburnings are conducted in controlled circumstances to allow this so that we don't have to have roaring carnage like this. Unfortunately it happens anyway.

Besides speculation that arson may have occurred, do they have any idea what motives might be involved?  Could it be a crazy extremist political stunt of some kind, or just wanton destruction?

It is kind of weird to me that you would even think that it would be an extremist political stunt although I suppose a good way to do so would be to disguise it under something like a bushfire that would happen anyway.

Most of the cases of deliberate bushfires I've heard about are actually volunteer firefighters who are bored and want to be seen as heros so they start a few fires to drum up work for themselves because they were too unfit to be allowed in the real fire department or something.
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Inlander

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Re: Australian bushfires
« Reply #15 on: 09 Feb 2009, 23:26 »

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Jace

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Re: Australian bushfires
« Reply #16 on: 10 Feb 2009, 00:39 »

Most of the cases of deliberate bushfires I've heard about are actually volunteer firefighters who are bored and want to be seen as heros so they start a few fires to drum up work for themselves because they were too unfit to be allowed in the real fire department or something.

This was the case of one of the most terrible forest fires in Southwest history. It was a volunteer who was paid per the work, so he started a fire near where he lived so that they could put it out and get paid by the county. Well, it quickly got out of control and linked up with one of the other fires in the same area.
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Re: Australian bushfires
« Reply #17 on: 10 Feb 2009, 00:58 »

These seem to happen in cycles, just like the yearly outbursts of forest fires on the U.S's west coast. After awhile, you kind of become inured to it you know? When I hear about something like this nowadays, I feel for the people, but on the whole it barely even phases me.

I've heard it tossed around that these fires can actually be beneficial, in a cleansing way--clearing out dead trees, brush, etc. Any basis to that?

Much of the native vegetation in Australia is adapted to fire, so much so that some plants can only reproduce by being burnt. It's part of the reason why bushfires are so common in Australia, as the vegetation generally has a large amount of volatile, flammable oils, in addition to being rather dry. There's a fair bit of debate in ecology circles though as to the frequency and intensity of burning that the native vegetation requires, and burning to benefit the vegetation takes a back seat to "hazard reduction" or "harm minimisation" burning, which is what Hat is talking about - it's supposed to reduce the fuel-load of the area, so you don't get massively intense fires like the ones we've just seen. When the press talks about how the landscape is "devasted" after a fire in Australia, it's kind of inaccurate for most situations and they rarely show photos of the burn site a few months later when it's a sea of green and new growth.

I think after this there's going to be some questions asked as to how so many people could be killed.  

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Inlander

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Re: Australian bushfires
« Reply #18 on: 10 Feb 2009, 01:41 »

The Victorian Government's already announced that there's going to be a Royal Commission into the fires, and there's been quite a lot of discussion in the media here in Victoria in the last 24 hours of the "stay or leave early" policy that dictates how people should react to the threat of a fire.
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Re: Australian bushfires
« Reply #19 on: 10 Feb 2009, 02:28 »

This situation is are mind blowing, the death tole is already over twice that of the ash Wednesday fires. Half of our country is on fire, the other half flooded. the flooded half filled with animals that can eat you and beyond waterlogged and the fiery half hot enough to kill from meters away. Good god i hope no-one I know is hurt.
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Re: Australian bushfires
« Reply #20 on: 10 Feb 2009, 03:52 »

Besides speculation that arson may have occurred, do they have any idea what motives might be involved?  Could it be a crazy extremist political stunt of some kind, or just wanton destruction?

Have you been reading Fox News?
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Re: Australian bushfires
« Reply #21 on: 10 Feb 2009, 05:42 »

All 128 deaths have been in Victoria despite over 50 different fires in NSW.

Update, the official toll is 173. And it is expected to hit over 200.
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Re: Australian bushfires
« Reply #22 on: 11 Feb 2009, 20:37 »

My thought was maybe eco-terrorists.  There are some lunatic fringe groups of environmentalists who are quite familiar with arson, if they think it benefits the environment somehow.  That article is kind of amusing, in a sad way though.  I notice that they kind of gloss over that whole "we have no evidence at all" bit.
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Re: Australian bushfires
« Reply #23 on: 13 Feb 2009, 17:15 »

Nah, it's just nutjobs, genuine pyromaniacs. Also the link with firefighters tends to be the other way around, people become firefighters because they like to light fires, they don't start lighting fires because they're firefighters (In most cases),  because that way they have a legitimate reason to be close to the fires,and admire their own handywork.

Also discarded cigarretts don't tend to start fires from what I know, they just don't have the required heat to start a fire unless you're really unlucky with where they land however they let that rumour grow because that way people dont get ideas on how to be a copycat - in the same way that the media depics sliting your wrists across rather than down the arm. I think there have been a couple of cases were a cigarette would be taped to a match so that when the ciggarette burned low enough it would light the match, which is powerful enough to light up the dry grass.

Acouple of updates as of last night
181 dead (but still with pleanty of unsearched buildings)
over 1800 houses destroyed
aproximatly 7000 people left homeless
more than $100 million (aud) has so far been donated

no one can really guess how many head of stock were killed as a resault, or how much damage was done to properties (ie. fences, sheds ect) or the toll on wildlife.
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Re: Australian bushfires
« Reply #24 on: 13 Feb 2009, 20:27 »

Yeah the people who are starting these fires are quite likely to be compulsive and sociopathic, so despite all the calls for the arsonists to be charged with murder and made an example of, I personally can't see what that will achieve given that pyromania is a genuine mental illness and these people have little to no control over their compulsions.
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Re: Australian bushfires
« Reply #25 on: 14 Feb 2009, 07:19 »

i thought the california ones were bad, but i guess you guys also have 110+ degree weather. the fires must be moving fast

The heat may help a fire start, but has little to nothing to do with the spread of a fire.  Wind is the biggest enemy of a fireman.  Fire warnings are all about high winds(Fast spreading fire) and low humidity(Dry conditions).
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Re: Australian bushfires
« Reply #26 on: 14 Feb 2009, 11:04 »

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