Last week saw temperatures in the high 40's here, summer is not my favorite time of the year. Once again lightning started fires in the Grampians National Park. The fire was estimated at 11 thousand hectares on Friday morning only to increase to 54 thousand hectares in about 28 hours. Although the fire was a long way from me the smoke plume was so intense that it created it's own weather and you could hear and see the thunder and lightning. An unpredicted wind change saved my immediate area of the Grampians, only to force the fire on to others. With the memory of the terrifying fires that we experienced in 2006 most people headed the warnings to evacuate and come into Stawell. Not knowing if you have a home to go back to is unnerving to say the least.
A second fire started at Bunjils Caves, much closer to me and an area that has may houses scattered across the Black Ranges. I am uncertain if this rock art site survived the fire, only time will tell.
I could post photos of the smoke and the fire, as Friday night it looked like the entire northern end of the Grampians was ablaze. But one person lost their life, many lost property, their homes and their livelihoods. Sadly many animals did not escape the blaze. This is the first time that I have seen the Metropolitan Fire Brigade send 5 units to help the CFA. The CFA or Country Fire Authority fire crews are all volunteers who give up their time and risk their lives to fight these fires. Coen's grandmother was a CFA radio operator for 38 years up until her sudden death. Win was only the second woman to be given the fire service medal in the Queens Birthday Honors. With the fire radio at the house I know only too well how much of her time that she gave to this volunteer position. An operation as large as fighting these fires takes hundreds of volunteers, and we are thankful to each and every one of them.
A satellite photo showing the devastated area of the Grampians National Park is here.