Monday, February 9, 2009

The raging inferno

Yesterday, 26. Then 35. Then 65. 76. 96.

Today, 108. Then at 4pm this afternoon, 131.

That's how many people have died in this fire catastrophe so far. 750 homes destroyed.

There'll be more to come of course, the fires are still roaring across the state, and there are so many razed houses that they'll be finding more victims for weeks underneath the collapsed rubble. People on outlying properties who stayed to fight, people who tried to run in the cars but couldn't go faster than the flames -

I'm profoundly disturbed by the newspaper photos of cars sitting on roads, mangled and burnt out, sometimes crashed into each other. There are dead people in those cars, and those pictures are actually images of tombs.

I don't like thinking about the poor animals in the forests and on farms who would have been terrified by the cataclysm, frightened out of their lives as they tried desperately to escape. Or the people who only had two seconds to run and couldn't grab their dogs or cats. The mental horror, guilt and anguish for them is unimaginable.

And then there's the Age, which tells the story of a man who stayed with his horse (and survived) and sent his brother away on his prized 1993 Harley Davidson to escape the fires. He doesn't know if his brother is okay.

In the Herald Sun there's a photo of a Harley Davidson lying on a road, on its side, and the story says the body of the rider was found nearby.

Are they actually two halves of the same story?


a cat of impossible colour said...

The whole thing is so horrific. :( Just awful beyond words.

Troischats said...

It's really difficult to deal with - and I live in inner Melbourne, well isolated from the actual events. Writing about it is hard, how to do it without sounding saccharine or indulgent, or melodramatic .... and the survivor stories coming out through the newspapers are just horrendous. I think people (including me) haven't actually yet come to grips with the full extent of the catastrophe.

Jilly said...

The stories coming out are beyond horror... The father who loaded his children into the car and turned his back for a matter of seconds - only to find the car burning... The sisters who'd tried to save their beloved horses but perished with them...

I have a friend who's house near Yarra Glen survived the weekend, but is now again threatened by another range of fires. They can't leave to get supplies as they won't be allowed to return - the CFA gave them water yesterday morning. Contact is sporadic at best - and lets face it - they've got far more important things to do than reassure all their worried family/friends right now.

It's beyond comprehension - a fire of this speed and magnitude. I've seen fires before - we all have in Australia - but this is exceptional in so many ways - none of them good.

Troischats said...

God Jilly, those stories are awful. I really hope your friend is ok, and that the fires turn away from them. My thoughts are with you.

Jilly said...

It's quite surreal when I walk out the door at work to the smell of rain, damp ground and a chill in the air...

Mountaingirl said...

Its been raining here for the last 5 days... a glorious, constant, soaking rain. And I feel guilty for enjoying it. I got irritated by a young girl at a shop counter who said glibly "I'm tired of all this rain, I want some sunshine" but it's not her fault it's so unfair, or that people so quickly forget.
I'm relieved that the blue mountains have been spared, but I feel a traitor for thinking that. I'm so sorry for everyone who has been affected. It just HAS to stop.