Monday, February 09, 2009

Oz on Fire

(Photo credit: Mark Pardew,AP)

During my year abroad, I spent four months in Australia. Except for the town of Broom in the upper west corner - which I missed - I'm pretty sure I covered it all. I drank a lot of beer, sang "Waltzing Matilda" about 8,000 times and nearly married one of those yummy Aussie men. I made "heaps of mates" and feel like Oz still lives in my heart, like a familiar love.

So, to watch it burn and see so many people die and suffer - it's like a personal hit to the gut. Last death count I heard was 188. I've contacted my Aussie peeps - all but one accounted for.

My dear friend, Kazza, tells me:

"It has been (and still is) a catastrophe. Most fires are under control now. I can’t imagine what it would be like. We have had extremely high temperatures in Adelaide. Walking on the pavement, my feet were getting burnt through the bottom of my shoes. 45 degrees (Celsius) is very hot. The kids at Ryan’s school were kept inside for 2 weeks – too hot to play outside. And then we hear from Tim’s family that their schools have been closed in UK because of high snow falls. What a topsy turvy world."

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the fires cease and the hardy, lovable people of Australia will heal and move forward. As they say Down Under, "She'll be right, mate." If you are moved to help, visit the Australian Red cross here.


Xa said...

Glad to know your mates are mostly accounted for.

I remember the eerie "ashfall" during the 2003 fires in Colorado and can't imagine running for my life from a fire the way our Aussie friends have had to.

ClizBiz said...

Yeah, apparently the fires were moving as fast as the wind. Not something I ever want to experience. Latest death toll stands at 188.

hotdrwife said...

I haven't looked at a map yet to see, but wonder if these fires have affected my uncle's ranch near Coolabah.

ClizBiz said...

Gosh, I sure hope not. You have enough to worry about.

kitty said...

Apart from the wind, it's the problem of the actual gum trees themselves. On very hot days the leaves open their stomata (pores) and eucalyptus gas is released to hang in a heavy layer over the tree. This means that the fire literally explodes from tree crown to tree crown across the layer of gas, and it can do it across a great distance. I've personally seen one fire ignite trees a kilometre away.

These fires are really hard to put out because they need multiple water bombers. Add wind as a factor and they can burn for weeks.