I woke up early this morning. I lay in bed waiting for my alarm to go off.
As it got closer to the time I normally wake up, I realised how dark it still was outside.
Then I remembered the bushfires and panicked. Could it be smoke causing this darkness?
I hurried out the back and looked around. It didn't seem much different to yesterday, and the wind was blowing south.
As I am north of the fires, a southerly wind is a good thing for me. But I was concerned about those they had already evacuated, most of them were moved south of the fire.
So I got went through my morning ritual and got ready for work. I was there early and put the radio on. The first piece of news I hear is that the number of confirmed dead is now at 173. Black Friday which occurred in 1939 and Ash Wednesday which occurred in 1983, both of which we still commemorate annually, did not claim this many lives even when added together. As an Australian with parents and grandparents who grew up near and remember the tragic loss of life of the earlier two fires, who have heard the stories and hoped it wouldn't happen in their lifetime.. to now see this is saddening.
There were very few warnings on the radio. Sure enough, the fire was heading towards people who had already been once evacuated.
It was a relatively quiet morning. There were no towns under any immediate danger, and whilst they were talking to firefighters who were going home now to return on Friday (they expect it to burn at least that long), and they warned people that with winds picking up this afternoon everything would start again, people were hopeful.
But, when I returned to lunch, the list of towns under threat was 8-10 long. They told us it would happen, I shouldn't have been surprised, but it was still somewhat unsettling. Those towns have received warnings for the past few days, so hopefully everyone is out of there by now.
Unless, they choose to stay and defend their property. We are the only state in the country where you can, if you so choose, put your life in danger to stay and defend your home. There are no mandatory evacuations. If they tell you to leave and you say you'd rather not, then you stay. This has resulted in a large number of the deaths (but I think most of them were people who left too late), and it is now being debated as to whether we should be given the choice.
A woman rang the radio today and said she had seen her sister was listed among the missing in the newspaper, and on the website. She had called them several times to let them know her sister was staying with her, but the lines were so busy she never got through. The radio presenter asked how her sister felt about being missing when she wasn't, and the woman put her sister on the phone.
Her sister told her story. Her and her husband sat on the back porch and saw the fire coming down the mountains, and she asked her husband what they would do. Her husband looked at the fire and said "We'll be okay", but she didn't think so, so he told her to leave. She left him the car and started to walk. A neighbour saw her walking and offered her a ride. With how quickly the fire spread, she knew her husband wouldn't make it out alive.
In the morning they had a lawyer on (as they do every Tuesday), and this week he was answering questions to do with the fire. Someone rang in and said they had recently sold their house in one of the affected towns. However, the day to hand over the keys had not yet arrived and now, the house is burned down.
He was told that the contract would state he is to deliver a property in a certain condition, and he would need to use any insurance money to build a property in a like condition to deliver.
I think that's enough for today. I still have stories to tell, but they can wait. I know I ramble a bit in these posts, and my thoughts do not flow as smoothly as they usually do, but there is so much to say. The fires are dominating our radios, dictating our conversations and controlling our thoughts. Bear with me while I unleash these thoughts over the next few posts.
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