Monday, February 9, 2009

Australian fires death toll rises


The horrific news about the 400 fires in Australia continues to worsen, with the number of fatalities now at 171 according to Reuters who received the information from a Victoria state police spokesman. Predictions are that the number will eventually exceed 230 as officials begin to examine more closely the communities that were heavily damaged, or in some cases wiped out by the fires.

Reprinted from BillyG's The Secret List:
The following are excerpts from various Australian FF's who have written in to us:

Greetings from a State and Fire Service in the world's news. Last Saturday, we saw the worst fire conditions in our State's history. A ten year drought produced extremely flammable forests and grasslands. We experienced temps in excess of 115 degrees with hot north winds in excess of 50 mph.

At the same time we had seven major fires burning and they have so far consumed over 650 000 acres and still going. As of now, 131 people have died. This figure will increase. Most fatalities were of families who tried to flee their homes in vehicles at the last moment. At one stage, one fire traveled approx 25 miles in 20 mins, totally destroying all in its path. The width of the firewall would have been approx 25 miles in some areas. Several small communities of up to 3000 people are totally destroyed.

Deaths are projected at possibly 200+...however rumours are predicting higher numbers. (Sadly). Over 700 homes destroyed and 5000+ people now homeless.

Thankfully, still no reports of F/F LODD's, however some reported injured with severe burns and there is the Fire Fighter who lost his wife and kids while he was out fighting the fire.

Resources from all over Australia are being sourced, including multiple skycrane helicopter water bombers, dozens of fixed and rotary wing bombers, and over 3000 Firefighters on the ground. A number of towns have been totally wiped out, with Disaster Victim Identification teams still yet to get in to establish the total number of lives lost.

Our Firefighters are doing a great job as usual, however as you imagine it is taking its toll. Many of our crews have been tasked with loss identification and this is very distressing as you are aware. Amid all the economic doom and gloom, the community as usual is responding to neighbours in need in an overwhelming manner. We have been very fortunate in relation to Firefighter fatalities and injuries in relation to the size, number and severity. We have several volunteer firefighters uncounted for at this time and several with life threatening burns. Most were protecting homes. There are currently in excess of 10 Firefighters in hospitals with burns in a critical condition.

Richard Wade

More information:
The Australian

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