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Australian Fires
I must begin this article by offering my very sincere thanks for the kind messages of support and concern we have received from so many ipernity members. It really has brought home to me that this is a very caring community group, not merely a photo sharing site. The essential point you need to know is that Pauline and I, and our furry friends, are safe and well and apart from being covered in soot and losing power and communications, our property has not been affected by the fires. As at writing, the nearest fires were stopped a few kilometres from us.

Beyond that, where do I begin? Probably, for the benefit of those overseas, a little background on fire seasons and conditions here. There has been a fair amount of what I would have to (politely) call 'disinformation' from some in our national government (the correct term relates to taurine excrement).

Yes, Australia has always had some bushfires, though on nothing like the scale seen this year. Our climate means that, in the southern part of the country, the summers are dry and winters wet, while in the north it's the opposite way round. We also have droughts, sometimes lasting several years as the current one has done across much of the country. Putting those factors together gives the basis for fires. UPDATE 9/1/20 The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has just issued a report that 2019 was the nation's hottest and driest year on record.

What has changed though, is that (despite what the climate change deniers want us to believe), temperatures in Australia are rising. www.bom.gov.au/state-of-the-climate . The item above has a graph showing average temperatures, with new record highs being set regularly. Higher temperatures result in lower humidity, meaning the vegetation dries out more and that makes it more inflammable. Climate change also results in changes to the way weather patterns move, so sometimes making rain less likely or hot dry winds more likely in certain areas, or even bringing extreme rainfall events, particularly in the tropics.

Putting these together results in more erratic weather and fire conditions. In the north of Australia, Queensland has some beautiful rainforest in its southern mountain areas. You may refer to this kind of forest as “jungle”. This has been saved as National Parks and, many years ago when I lived in that area, I used to go walking and camping there. It was always moist (usually dripping water). Fires there were virtually unknown. In the past few years I have been amazed by the news of extensive and intense fires in these areas, from which the forest may never recover in its original form (eucalypts are more resilient to fires and are likely to take over).

Further south, where I now live, I am old enough to have seen a number of droughts. That said, I do not recall ever seeing the vegetation as desiccated as it has been recently. Put that together with lower humidity and the tendency to more intense fires becomes obvious. It is interesting that a delegation of 23 retired senior fire commissioners, from around the country, tried to warn the national government about this many months ago tinyurl.com/y4px8z4m but they have been ignored and the Prime Minister would not spare the time to meet them.

The retired fire experts noted that, in normal years, “controlled burning” (low intensity intentionally lit fires) would be done during calm cooler weather when vegetation had built up excessively. With rising temperatures and drier conditions, the opportunity to do that safely has now been reduced greatly.

What has been tremendously heartening, among all the gloom and awful devastation the fires have caused, has been the amount of community support. Starting with the thousands of volunteer firefighters “The Firies” around the country, who have donated all their time, in some cases now for months, toward control efforts. Then there are the community groups who have assisted with the operation of evacuation centres; the wildlife carers who are working hard to save as many of the fire affected wildlife as possible; and the businesses that have donated food and other support for those affected and for the many workers.

As I said at the start, we have been fortunate and have been spared direct contact with the fires. The fires left us without power, internet or communications for various periods and we have seen some of the direct fire effects - I have added some relevant images in my ipernity photo stream.

29 comments

Pam J said:

GEORGE AND PAULINE.. THAT YOU DRE SAFE AND YOUR HOME IS UNTOUCHED BY THE FIRES.

YOUR SPPRSISAL OF THRE FIRES IS CURATE.. AND IS MIRRORED HERE ALSO.\
I CAN ALSO TOTALLY AGREE AS TO THE LOVE AND CARE AND SUPPORT OF THIS COMMUNITY.

STAY SAFE YOU TWO..MAY THE NIGHTMARE END SOON.

HUGSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS
8 months ago

Jaap van 't Veen said:

Most important is to know that you and yours are safe.
Hope to see you active on Ipernity as soon as possible.
8 months ago

╰☆☆June☆☆╮ said:

Hi George. Thank you for the update, and so happy that you and Pauline are safe, and have not lost your home. Every day we see this devastation on the news and my heart breaks for all of you that are affected.
Big hugs for you and Pauline from the UK.
June.
8 months ago

Herb Riddle said:

A heartwarming story here George. Demonstrating the sharing of care and kindness by those around you. For us here in Ipernity-land that now know you, it is most pleasing to hear that you and Pauline are safe and sound back in your home. May it remain so!
Like you, we here in Britain have followed the exploits of your government and prime minister in answering the arisen problems with these fires and unfortunately that does seem to be a little wanting, especially in the prime-causes department. Hopefully things will change for the better soon. ~ Herb
8 months ago

John FitzGerald said:

I am of course glad to learn that you and Pauline are safe, George. And the community support is being admired around the world. I hope the community will soon have the government on its side.
8 months ago

Marta Wojtkowska said:

So good to know that you are safe and undamaged!
8 months ago

Peggy C said:

And I add my relief that you are safe. Have read some stories about the plight of the Koalas and it breaks my heart. But, that so many people reach out to each - that is the value of humankind we all need to do... when possible. It is these people who make things work - not the politicians..
8 months ago

Andy Rodker said:

I heard that the loss of life, though grievous, is on a lesser scale than in the terrible fires of 2009, when the advice given to residents at risk was different. It seems some lessons were learnt.
Very pleased you and yours are safe and sound, George. Of personal interest, and as a fan of some great Aussie wines, I wonder which iconic vineyards have bitten the dust this time around. Not too many I hope!
8 months ago

tiabunna replied to Andy Rodker:

You're quite right re the loss of life, Andy. From memory, when the 2009 fires hit Victoria they were on a weekend when people were home, hit near-urban areas around Melbourne, and moved faster than expected. These have continued to develop over a period of some months, with more warning and in low population areas (much is State Forest or National Park). Re the wines, apart from the Adelaide Hills, probably not too many wine producing areas have been hit by fire, but the smoke/soot may cause some problems for the next vintage.
8 months ago

Karen's Place said:

So glad you're safe and you have your fur babies with you too. Thanks for keeping us posted, George!
8 months ago

Ko Hummel said:

good to hear you and your family are safe. Thank you for the good info on the fires and causes of it
8 months ago

* ઇઉ * said:

George, it is said that fire-fighting methods of the western world, as usually used in such fires in Australia, are partly responsible for these catastrophic bush fires - and destructive forestry. The indigenous Australians have been able to avoid such fires for centuries because they have a different approach to bush fires. I hope that their experience and know-how will be used to find new ways of dealing with such natural disasters.
But the main thing currently is that you are safe and could return to your home. Thank God. Thank you for keeping us informed, and my best wishes to both of you and all the others concerned.
8 months ago

Xata said:

I understand better with your explanation, I follow on Euronews and as I am on the road now I have info on tablet.
We are indeed more than a photosharing here, we care about each others.
All the best...
8 months ago

Steve Paxton said:

George we both hope that there are lessons learnt from all this, the aboriginals had better fire control that we have now. Like yourself we where not that badly effected by the fire but its a real eyeopener to venture in the fire zone. Glad to here you both ok and can restart your lives as normal. our thoughts go out to those who have lost every thing and face the real cost of this start to summer. All the best from the west......
8 months ago

©UdoSm said:

It's nice to see that you're safe and well on.
Thank you for the info...
8 months ago