Bushfires are very much a reality of an Australian summer, it’s rare that a summer will pass without there being a devastating fire somewhere in Australia. Australians grow up either witnessing large fires or seeing the aftermath. Growing up in the foothills at a time when a few houses were surrounded by open paddocks, I can remember summer nights looking up to the hills and seeing the colours of a fire burning through the night set against a black sky. The book “February Dragon” by Australian author Colin Thiele was very much the staple of my generation’s school novels. The dragon in the title was the fire that ate up the countryside during a hot summer. The book made quite an impression on my young mind!
In early January this year we had a series of very hot days, which in turn led to a fire starting and burning its way through a large area of inaccessible scrub, as well as coming very close to some small towns and villages which had to be evacuated. We were fortunate that, although some people did loose their houses, there was no loss of life and only one fire fighter was injured.
The fire was close enough to where I live that I was woken up during the night with the smell of wood smoke, thinking someone had lit a fire in their fireplace. Wondering why since it wasn’t mid winter!
This was the smoke from the fires from day 4.
I went for a short drive recently and saw part of the burnt out areas, was also amazed by the resilience of the native Australian trees, two months after being burnt they were already sprouting new growth in the form of leaves. The trees had these green areas along their trunks.
The trees that didn’t fare well in the fire were the pine trees and whole pine forests in the area will now have to be cut down as the trees are dead. For safety too I noticed that large trees that had been burnt and were close to the edge of the road had already been cut away, as there was a real danger of these damaged trees falling on passing vehicles.