Sunday, February 08, 2009

Arson is an Act of Terrorism

Well, I feel for South Australia and Victoria who have had more over 40 temps than us but after 2 days of 44 (don't you listen to what Google says, I have a thermometer on my verandah and that's the shade temp) . . . yesterday, thanks to a huge verandah and shutting up the house, it didn't become unbearable until about 3.oopm when Clare and I ventured to the cinema to get out of the heat. A nice evening breeze relieved things overnight but today kicked off late . . by 3.30 it was well into the 40's. But for us, it was an inconvenience, for many rural towns in Victoria it was Armageddon . . .



I can't tell you how furious I am about the Victorian bushfires, suspectedly deliberately lit and have so far cost over 64 confirmed dead over 640 homes lost. To put it into perspective, we have lost 4 soldiers in both the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. The victims? Children in cars, families trying to make a run for it, people caught unawares or sleeping with no idea the menace was so close. Hundreds of properties as people were taken by surprise during the night and tried so hard to escape . . .too late. . . whole families burned in their vehicles or in their sleep . .

Fires jumping the road - yes I've seen it, the flames literally hop across the median strip and ignite on the other side of the road leaving no escape for the hapless motorist. The army has now been called in to assist the bushfire brigade who are battling these blazes in over 40 degree heat, most of them volunteers. I can't tell you how much I admire these people for doing what they do. My heart sank this morning when I heard the news.

These are not Malibu Mansions, they were suburban dwellings in a
lovely hamlet in the LaTrobe Valley

You get an idea of the velocity of bushfires by looking at the trees. They're leaf intact. It travels so fast that it singes the leaves and trunks but latches on to structures. The little hamlet of Kinglake apparently looks like a nuclear zone and there are countless others suffering from abject vandalism thanks to these firebugs . . .no they're terrorists . . .mass murderers . . .and should be forced to face the consequences of their actions.

How do you fight that with a hose?

Then here, in the comfort of the Kellyville suburbs, we are inconvenienced by a little smoke from fires on Peats Ridge and in the Kuringai National Park. We spent the day sploshing around in our pool, drinking beer and talking about live bands and how nice a little rain would be . . .the horses enjoyed a comfortable hose down, Lily was in her element and is now lying exhausted on the front door step. What a priviledged life we lead.

I was going to post photos of today's languishing and lolling but it doesn't seem respectful given the suffering of so many down south. I really, really hope they catch these assholes, public lynching is too good for them.

My prayers are not enough. My love and condolences are mere tokens. How do you console a grandparent who's entire family tried in vain to escape from someone's carelessness . . .how do you console a father who watched his children burn in the car while he quickly nipped back into the house to retrieve the family pet . . .

As I write, the air is filling with acrid smoke from a fire somewhere close by. We are not at risk but it's a timely reminder that we live on an explosive continent . . a thrown cigarette butt, burning a stolen car, mucking around in the bush with matches really is a matter of life and death.

I can't type anymore. My eyes are filling with tears. I'm just so grateful that my angels are home, hot and happy. This song came to mind . . .teardrops on the fire indeed.

Photos courtesy of the Sun Herald


45 comments:

Miles McClagan said...

Yeah, but if they get into court and say Daddy didn't love them, they'll get off! Or is that just Scotland?

subtorp77 said...

Afraid not Miles ,that 'appens in the U.S. as well. All too often.

Baino, I've just been reading the reports on yaheck but no snaps. Guess they're to squeamish to pub them. This is bloody worse than the Malibu fires( which were also thought to be set deliberately ). I'd rather drown crossing a wash-out than perish in the flames of Mother Nature. I lost a good friend to fire, in a night-club tradgedy.

And with temps at above 40? Ouch!

subtorp77 said...

For a spell, I was in the National Guard. One year at camp, lightning touched off a brush fire. B Company was lucky to get out with their lives. Hang the equipment( ammo, weapons, clothing, vehicles, etc.)and just run like hell. My sarge and I had gotten lost in the smoke and ended up right at the wall break. Close call there.

steph said...

SO sad!

Very relieved to hear that you and your younglings are safe together and at home.

We are looking like being snowed in here today. It's a crazy old world!

Thriftcriminal said...

Good song.

Poor little ones.

nick said...

It's absolutely dreadful. I was watching the news reports, it looks like Vietnam. That huge area right across from Wandong to Marysville laid waste and Marysville itself burnt to the ground. Spreading so fast that as you say whole families were incinerated in their cars trying to get away. Where arsonists are to blame, I just hope their friends and families are responsible enough to turn them in.

Susan said...

You're right, it does look like a nuclear attack---but how horrible for the victims that it didn't happen as mercifully quickly as one. Horrible and heartbreaking. I hope your hot weather breaks soon, and the firefighters stay safe, and the fires somehow go out.

Hug your kids meanwhile Baino and stay cool!

Carole said...

I don't understand vandalism and arson. I just don't. There is just no excuse. My heart goes out to you. It's funny how blogging brings us closer together. Things that happen on the other side of the world suddenly hit closer to home when someone you know, even if it's just through blogging, is affected. Glad you and yours are safe for now.

Melissa said...

I'm so sorry, Baino. This is just heartbreaking. So glad you and yours are safe, and my heart is with all the victims' families. xo

Ces said...

What a great tragedy. Yes, indeed, the arsonists will have their rights defended especially if they were here in the US. The Human Rights group will make sure they will not get the death penalty. Only barbaric states like Texas will use the death penalty to punish mass murderers and rapists. Even terrorists are no longer a threat, we are releasing them. We need to treat these criminals, murderers and terorists gently. It's society's fault, especially the good people's fault.

Nancy said...

Baino,

Heartbreaking to read your account of families dying in their cars escaping a fire that was intentionally set.

Our newspapers here in Florida are keeping us informed of the severity of the fires and of the courageous sacrifices the volunteer firefighters are making to try to contain the flames.

Thank God you and your family are safe . Take care. We are thinking of you.

Miladysa said...

(hugs)

Devasting news Baino! My heart goes out to everyone there particular those who have suffered loss.

Glad to hear that you and yours are safe x

Gledwood said...

The last time I encountered the aftermath of wildfire was in 1976 ~ year of our biggest recent drought ~ when I was 4 but I still remember clearly the smokey smell, the heat emanating from all the ashy logs, the ebony-black earth... very strange in the ordinarily mellow English countryside...

Gledwood said...

I have always wondered how they ever catch (and they apparently have) people who set these fires...

O BTW all the talk of "smoking" today chez moi was supposedly in the name of "harm reduction"...

Ces said...

I am so sorry, I was distracted by the talk about arsonists going free. I lost two childhood homes from arson and I still remember the night my sisters, brothers and I were gathered by our parents and instructed to walk towards the river bank. The entire city was in flames and there was no place else to go. I was in first grade. We lost everything, our ancestral records and photographs but we counted our blessings and thanked the Lord we were safe. Some people were not very lucky. I still remember the haunting photographs my father took. He was a photographer and documented the aftermath.

ian said...

Our news is reporting 96 dead:

http://www.rte.ie/news/2009/0208/australia.html

That's awful.

Prayers.

Ian

Baino said...

Miley you're very cynical. We never seem to find out who the culprits are or whether the full force of the law is mooted out now do we?

The death toll is rising Subtorp, they've yet to go back into some of the burnt out areas to see who made it and who didn't. I'm terrified of fires. There's little you can do about lightening strike but to be deliberately lit when it's so dry, hot and windy is worse than a crime! Smoke is a huge problem. It caused pileups on the road out and people became stuck in the inferno.

Yep, nothing close to us Steph. I have a heavily wooded block but we're firmly entrenched in suburbia so no real risk here.

Poor little ones indeed Thrifty. Give yours a cuddle.

I'm not sure we'll ever know Nick. Newscasters tend to post the dramatic but are poor at the followup. Families last night were saying that in Kinglake, they didn't even smell the smoke, it just descended fast and furious.

Our weather's cooling down across the country today Suze so hopefully some relief for fire fighters. Most are volunteers, they do an amazing job under the circumstances.

Yep Carole, it's a mystery to me. In the past fires have even been started by careless backburning or firefighters themselves. I guess if you're a pyro it's the best organisation to join. Again, I'm not sure we'll eve know who started this fiasco.

Yep, mine too Melissa. We're a very good country at pulling together in a crisis. People are receiving a lot of help, temporary accommodation, extra centrelink payments etc. and some are so stoic, just thankful that they got out alive.

We don't have the death penalty Ces but life imprisonment is too good for them. I'd have them out on a chain gang cleaning up after themselves. Apparently the major hospitals in Melbourne are likening it to the Bali Bombing in terms of burns victims.

Yep Nancy, we're fine. No major incidents in NSW. A few spot fires in country areas which just bathes the Sydney basin in a pall of smoke but it's nothing compared to what the Victorians are facing.

Yep, like I said we were lolling in the pool and taking it easy while others were running for their lives. We had major fires about 10kms away five years ago. My sister and her family packed up early and moved in for a couple of days until the danger was over. You know you're in trouble when helicopters start dipping their buckets in your neighbour's pond!

Gleds, fire in England? Goodness. We're all coached on 'hazard reduction' here. Leaf clear gutters, not planting trees to close to housing but people love to live in these woody places. Always a risk when there's a bushfire.

Oh Ces, I had no idea. That's the awful legacy isn't it, losing all those little memories and things you hold dear. Still, to come out alive is better than the alternative.

They'll need them Rev. The death toll is rising. I haven't caught the news this morning yet but after I posted this 11 more were found. Tragic doesn't cover it.

Maria said...

I'm happy to hear that you and your family are safe. I hope you get some rain so that the horror will be over soon. I'd love to send you some of the clouds and cool temperatures we have here...
I am shocked that people are that careless or even lit the fires deliberately!

Grannymar said...

Baino, I am late in visiting today. I spoke to my brother in Melbourne about 12 hours ago. You could detect the smoke in his voice. Thankfully he is safe, but very much on edge. Quite suddenly the sky changed from bright blue to an orange ashy fog.

We can but pray.

Stay safe!

Magpie 11 said...

Hi, I have just come off Skype to a friend in Denliquin..she says that there are now well over 100 fatalities....I cannot say enough to convey my thoughts and feelings.

Would that I had found your blog in better times.

RyanIAm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
English Mum said...

Oh God, that's just terrible. I'm so glad you've got your tribe around you. And so sorry others weren't so lucky x

Baino said...

Hi Maria, yep we're all fine. Some small fires around Sydney but all contained thankfully.

Ryan, you're an angel and good point. Blood donors are badly needed. I admire you kiddo, it's a great thing you do. While we're all languishing in the water,you're volunteering for a fantastic organisation. Hats of to you and your ilk.

Definitely the worst we've had EM, worse even than the Ash Wednesday fires in South Australia a few back. The death toll just keeps rising.

Kath Lockett said...

Brilliantly written - and genuinely felt - Baino. Can I just put a link to this, because I honestly, truly don't know how to write about it, despite being a Victorian resident.

Paddy said...

Fucking fuckers ..... people like that deserve nothing better than to suffer the same fate their actions have caused to others.

River said...

I'm sitting here in my safe little Sth Aus. unit, praying for a miracle in the form of statewide rain for Victoria. I'm finding it terribly hard not to cry at the devastation.

Baino said...

Kath go for it. I just had to put something down in print. It wasn't what I wanted to post at all but needed to be said.

Yep Paddy .. an appropriate expletive I think! Not that your school board would approve!

River,welcome over and I'm glad that you're safe and sound. Adelaide's had a hard time with this persistent heat as well and I know exactly how you feel. There's very little 'good' news coming out of this other than communities really sticking together. Let's hope the cooler weather is helpful!

Moon said...

We have terrible wildfires here as well,and some are started on purpose.. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be caught in one .. so so sad... what a terrible waste of peoples lives ..

The people who start these will find their own fires... in hell ..

Jefferson Davis said...

Tis awful, Baino. I just saw a clip on the news that said 128 lives had been taken by the fire and smoke inhalation. My thoughts and prayers are with you and those in the line of fire that has ravaged the land.

Megan said...

I have been watching the news. Horrible. :(

Bimbimbie said...

Tsup*!*

Can't watch the news reports anymore.

Baino said...

Moon, we get telecasts of your fires as well. Seems to be a common thread, arson the world over.

We're not in the line of fire JD, Sydney basin just gather's smoke occasionally but the Victorians are in strife.

I can't watch the news any more Megan. I'm with Bimbimbie, too hard. Too sad.

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

God, that's just too awful, Baino. We haven't had it nearly as hot here, though out in the countryside the heat has also soared into the 40s. Stellenbosch, a town part of the greater Cape Town area was on fire the whole of last week and the fire brigade were on strike. The locals had to do the firefighting themselves. We've had two fires so far on the mountains here - one on Saturday night, one started yesterday afternoon, filling the garden with smoke - but nothing like those Victoria fires. And yes, ours too are evidently arson.
You honestly have to wonder what the hell people are thinking when they do stuff like this.

Taffy's Mum said...

I remember the devastation the bush fires left when I was in Sydney a few years back (our friends also live near the ku-ring-gai national park) but can't imagine how much worse this is.
My thoughts go out to those who have lost loved ones. I have cousins living in the Melbourne area and pray that they are safe.

laughingwolf said...

baino, no words can express the horror of these fires :(

and then there are the floods, further north... more tragedies :(

glad you and yours are safe, though!

Ces said...

baino, this was an article last year:

Islam group urges forest fire jihad

• Josh Gordon
• September 7, 2008
AUSTRALIA has been singled out as a target for "forest jihad" by a group of Islamic extremists urging Muslims to deliberately light bushfires as a weapon of terror.
US intelligence channels earlier this year identified a website calling on Muslims in Australia, the US, Europe and Russia to "start forest fires", claiming "scholars have justified chopping down and burning the infidels' forests when they do the same to our lands".
The website, posted by a group called the Al-Ikhlas Islamic Network, argues in Arabic that lighting fires is an effective form of terrorism justified in Islamic law under the "eye for an eye" doctrine...

http://www.theage.com.au/national/islam-group-urges-forest-fire-jihad-20080906-4b53.html?page=-1


These people are irrational, and Obama and the liberals are worried about protecting their rights.

Ropi said...

These flames look quite crucial. Luckily in Hungary arsons are rare. Well it is not completely true because cars are set to fire sometimes and there were some uprisings in Budapest which caused fires but we had only smaller fires in forests.

Quickroute said...

I've been looking at this tonight and it was horrible. Lives lost, lives ruined - and by some mindless yob no doubt

Terence McDanger said...

I literally cannot begin to fathom why anyone would start this deliberately.

The same person would likely be unable to kill another outright but can do effectively the same thing to multiples, albeit at a step's remove, and seemingly not care.

The world is full of knuckleheads.

laughingwolf said...

ces, your link is now dead :(

TCL said...

We have had similar incidents in California with fires deliberately or accidentally started by individuals. But we haven't had the huge number of deaths that you've got in Oz. I'm really sorry to hear about the news. I was quite amazed at what I saw today in the news. My thoughts are with the families who lost their homes and their loved ones.

nick said...

I see a special police unit has been set up to track down the arsonists. I hope to God they find them before they start yet more fires.

ashleigh said...

Terrible. We had a shocking day on Saturday - stinking hot, dust storms, and the change finally came in. I had no idea what was going on until my father called me late in the day. Since then the news keeps getting worse, and it's not all put out yet.

I thought we had it tough here because it was hot. I won't complain like that again...

Baino said...

AV I imagine you're much like us with tinder dry bush and summer fires being pretty much the norm. These are one out of the box. God help whoever started them because nobody here will.

Taffy's, Kuringai often goes up to be honest. Unfortunately, people love to live in these wooded areas which makes them vulnerable at the best of times. I hope your cousins are well entrenched in the burbs, even that can be uncomfortable when the smoke haze hits. (Do you have a blog? Next time, link your name if you do)

Yes Wuffa we're fine. Thanks for posting on your own site too. I'm sure the Victorians could do with all the good karma they can get.

Ces, I don't think we have anything to worry about from Jehadist, redneck arsonists are doing the job for them!

Ropi 'crucial' is a very good word for it. Residents describe 'fireballs' and the absolute ferocity thanks to high winds and very hot weather. They are the worst national disaster we've ever had.

Quickie (or should we start calling you "Where's Wally") tributes from across the world have been pouring in today.

Terrence, apparently Arsonists are like serial killers. They get off watching the result of their handiwork, often return to the scene of the crime and feel no remorse. I just hope the firies don't catch em first!

I'm sure they'd thank you Ted. It's been quite an obsession here over past days but everyone's rallied and already $27 million has been raised in less than 24 hours. Aussies are good at rallying to the cause.

Yep Nick. Big police forensic presence at the moment and the Victorian commissioner, Christine Nixon will be heading a reconstruction task force from March. There's a great will to catch these bastards.

Thank you everyone. Comments closed now. All over bar the cleanup. Let's move on.

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