Well, what can be said about the Victorian bush fires? They’re the worst natural disaster to befall Australia, and, if, as seems likely, they were started deliberately, the largest mass murder in Australia’s history. Police have declared certain areas as crime scenes, and radio news reports this morning hinted that they may be close to arresting someone they suspect of lighting some of the fires.
The weather throughout the south east has been ridiculously hot for the last two or three weeks, hitting 46C in both Adelaide and Melbourne. The inland suburbs of Sydney were regularly well over 40C this week, and at John’s wedding in Canberra at the weekend the temperature topped 40C on four consecutive days. With those sorts of temperatures fires are inevitable, even without arson. A 15yr-old boy was arrested in Sydney for starting a fire, though it appears he just let off a firework rather than deliberately trying to light vegetation with matches.
As of this morning, the death toll is 173 and it’s expected to top 200. 750+ homes have been destroyed. The Red Cross are running and appeal and you can donate on their website. They’re also looking for blood donors so I’ve signed up for that (yes Mum, I know I should have done it ages ago!)
The sad thing is that this sort of thing is likely to become more frequent due to climate change, yet there’s still some resistance to doing anything substantive about it. There were similar fires in 2003, but because they burnt through National Parks rather than towns no-one worried about them too much. SE Australia is acknowledged as being in the midst of a 12-year drought, but perhaps it’s not a drought so much as the new climate for that region?