Feb 09. The second week of February
witnessed the worst wildfires in Australia’s history.
At least 400 separate bush (forest)
fires were racing across the state of Victoria bringing enormous destruction
to forests, towns, human lives, animals and wildlife. Several towns were
literally wiped out, including Marysville. (see below)
By the end
of the week the death toll rose by eight to 181, but has since increaed to
200. The final number will be more as more bodies are found, and as some of
the serious burn cases die. More than
100 people had been admitted to hospitals across Victoria with burns. At
least 20 were in critical condition.
has led to the destruction of more than 1,500 homes with some towns totally
razed to ashes.
than 7,000 people were left homeless.
Fires are a regular occurrence in
the Australian bush, but no-one was ready for the conflagration that raced
through the forests and many towns of the state on Saturday Feb 7.
The fires occurred during an
exceptional heat wave, on a day when several localities across Victoria
experienced their highest temperatures - 47-480C (117-1190F)
since records began in 1859.
Fierce winds fueled the fires at up to
120km per hour. Huge
fireballs raced through fields, cars, houses, shops and schools.
It took only a few minutes for smoke
on the horizon to become an inferno engulfing homes.
One witness described this scene:
Barely 2 minutes passed from when he first heard the roar of blaze until his
house burst into flames. The blaze raced across pine plantations, driven by
fierce winds that launched a barrage of fireballs onto the town. All those
pine trees started to explode, and embers “the size of your fist” started
falling from the sky. Cars simply melted.
Some house owners who chose to stay and defend their homes, lost their
Shocking stories came out of the
horrific disaster. The remains of four children were found huddled
together. A man trying to escape on his motorbike, crashed it, and he died
as he tried to outrun the fires.
Another man put his
children in the car and dashed back to the house to collect something. When
he returned the car was on fire and the children were dead.
The Country Fire Authority (CFA) has defended its firefighters and the "stay
and defend" policy, but “people need to understand that a late departure is
the most deadly,” a CFA official said. "We have said, and it is clearly
evident, that fires can come without warning and very rapidly, and that you
may not receive a warning and that you may not have a fire truck at your
The majority of the deaths occurred during the first weekend but fires
continued to threaten towns across a huge area north and east of Melbourne
the following week.
The Churchill Jeeralang fire has so far ravaged 40,000ha. It has a 130km
Twenty-one people have so far been found dead in the ruins of the Gippsland
Fires in East Kilmore,
between Yea and Seymour, started on Saturday and merged with the Yea-Murrindindi
fire creating the massive Kinglake Complex fire. This fire has burnt almost
230,000 hectares, destroyed 550 homes and killed at least 147 people in a
wide area from Wandong, north of Melbourne, to Marysville and Taggerty.
The worst hit towns were
Kinglake, Strathewen, St Andrews and Marysville.Police
are now working their way, road by road, house by house, in search of fire
In the third week of
the disaster, about 4,000 firefighters were still battling nine blazes, but
which were not thought to be life-threatening.
US firefighters from
the US and New Zealand have arrived in Victoria to join the ranks of
Australian crews to tackle remaining fires.
At the same time,
dozens of fires were blazing in the neighboring state of New South Wales.
INFERNO COULDN'T BE STOPPED”
Marysville is being
referred to as
Ground Zero of Black Saturday.
The inferno that wiped the quaint town off the map was spewing flaming
branches kilometres ahead of the fire front, a survivor says.
The man said the town
went from being under
to under siege
in minutes and there was nothing anybody could do. "The firestorm that
enveloped the town is something that I'll never forget." The evacuation was
a shambles and the fire was travelling at such speed there was no time to
He said he evacuated
with about two minutes to spare and watched from the Buxton-Marysville Road
as the town was swallowed by the flames. "It was like a big cauldron that
was boiling over and it was running over the lip, you could see the cloud
sort of rolling, which was the fire front and the wind."
The blaze is believed to
have claimed about 100 people - one fifth of Marysville's population.
"The people that went
back later said, “It's absolute decimation, everything is just powder and
ash, it's a modern day Dresden, you know Dresden that suffered the bombing
in the Second World War."
DELIBERATLY LIT BY ARSONISTS
The numerous fires are largely the
result of lightning strikes – but some are suspected to be the result of
arson. These suspicions led police to declare more than half of the state
a crime scene.
Forensic teams of investigators are
now moving into burned out houses and farms, looking for evidence of how the
infernos were started, and who could have lit them.
Victorian Police Chief
Commissioner Christine Nixon said police were continuing to investigate
whether arsonists caused more of the devastating bushfires.
She said police now
believed the Churchill fire, which claimed 21 lives, and the Marysville
fire, where 100 people died, were deliberately lit.And police were prepared
to lay a charge of murder by arson - with a 25-year jail penalty - against
anyone believed to have caused one of the fatal bushfires.
Prime Minister Rudd suspended
parliament and toured the affected region. "What can you say? What can you
say?" asked a shaken Rudd. "There are no words to describe it other than
mass murder," he said.
A MILLION ANIMALS MAY HAVE PERISHED
thousands, possibly millions,
of animals and native wildlife may have perished in Victoria's fire inferno.
devastating, the actual size of the destruction is devastating to a number
of wildlife populations. Not just pets and farm animals, but also there are
gliders and all sorts of possums, bandicoots, birds … there’s so much
wildlife,” said a spokeswoman.
shelters and inspectors have been working around the clock to provide
emergency assistance also to family pets, livestock and wildlife hurt in the
ferocious Victorian bushfires. "We are able to offer short term emergency
accommodation and veterinary care to pets at our shelters across Victoria."
The animals are then being treated and assessed by vets at nearby shelters,
who make the agonizing decision about which ones need to be euthanized.
SERVICES HELD ACROSS AUSTRALIA
Prime Minister, Kevin
Rudd promised to provide support for the communities ripped apart by the
disaster. "We rebuild, and we rebuild together," he told mourners at one of
a number of memorial services on Feb 15. "And not just for tomorrow, and not
just for next week, and not just for next month, but until this community is
More than $100 million
was raised from the public during the week, to aid victims of the inferno.
A DAY OF
MOURNING will be held on Sunday Feb 22nd.
A FORETASTE OF
THE GREAT TRIBULATION
The Victorian inferno brings to mind
the prophecy of Malachi.
"Look! The day is coming,
burning like a
furnace … and the
day that is coming will set them ablaze, says YHWH of Hosts, so that it will
leave them neither root nor branch."
The great prophet, Isaiah, also refers
to the seven-year Tribulation - a fiery judgment:
“The earth is also
polluted by its inhabitants, for they have transgressed the teachings,
changed the laws, and broken the everlasting covenant.
Therefore a curse devours
the earth, and those who live in it are held guilty. Therefore
the inhabitants of the earth are burned up,
and few men are left.”
“By the fury of YHWH of
the land is burned up, and the people are
like fuel for the fire.”
These passages are speaking of the
Tribulation judgment. What we have seen recently, in the horrendous fires
in California, Greece and Victoria, as well as the earthquakes, cyclones and
famines, may not yet be judgments – but they are indeed warnings of the
judgment to come on the whole world, because of the wickedness that is
multiplying throughout the nations.
We – the nations – are living in the
“days of Noah” when then world was filled with corruption and violence.
6:11). And we have a clear
message from the words of the apostle Paul:
overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to
because He has fixed a day in which
He will judge the world in righteousness
through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all by
raising Him from the dead.”
But the apostle Paul also gives the
word of the Gospel:
WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART
– that is, the Word of faith which we are proclaiming, that if you confess
with your mouth Y'shua as Master, LORD, and believe in your heart
that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart man
believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he
confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says,
BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek (Gentile); for the
same Master, the Master of all, is rich to all who call upon Him, for
WHOEVER WILL CALL UPON THE NAME OF YHWH-Y'SHUA the LORD WILL BE SAVED.”