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Unfortunately they are a lot closer than you would think. Yesterday was very smoky here in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Fortunately the fires at the moment are nowhere near as bad as last week. The damage to many country towns was pretty severe with major loss of life and property. However there does seem to be a big response by the government and population to assist those in need.
 

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Just another modeller
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*** Thanks Billy - I am currently on the opposite side of the country and whilst we do have the odd very bad fire here in the West, the current Victorian fires are simply beyond imagination - having been close to a couple of big fires when I lived Victoria I still cannot begin to imagine how bad it has been for those poor people - the very thought makes me shudder. I certainly have less than pleasant memories of a bright orange sky, the smoke turning day into an eerie half night at the same time... and the huge noise and radiant heat.

When its as intense as these fires have been, a truely hellish firestorm happens, with trees more than 100 metres from flames just catching fire spontaneously ...and the heat gets so high at its heart that the metal in cars actually partly melts and many bodies can never be recovered as there is simply nothing left to recover.

This has been a indelible historical event of the worst kind and the cost this time will be far, far more than $$$ and property - Some truly beautiful scenic places are 100% destroyed (whole towns gone) ...so many good people and their lifes work and good memories lost and or changed forever, family members terribly hurt or gone and literally millions of precious irreplaceable animals both native and domestic wiped off the planet.

The current situation just beggars belief... and I have to say that its incomprehensible to me that those B*****ds that start them, and then gleefully continue to light more while whole families die and volunteers risk their lives to help, are not simply shot on sight or otherwise executed ....The hell with the modern feel-good societys attitudes to rehabilitation!

What may be a surprise to you in UK is that here in AU almost all the country fire services are manned by volunteers - only the metro areas have full time salaried fire departments, so most of those brave men and women in the news wearing the yellow coats not only do it as in invaluable community service, they aren't even properly funded so when not fighting fires they are selling raffle tickets and manning cake stalls to get the cash / raise the money to buy their own extra fire engines and equipment! True heroes one and all.

The only positive has been the hugely supportive reaction world wide and the massive support in donations from everywhere - from within AU alone, more than 100 millon in donated cash and so much material donation that the red cross etc are out of storage space!

*** Hi Neil

I was thinking of you, Paul and the BRMA crew the other day - wondering how bad the smoke haze in Melbourne was right now - I have less than pleasant memories of ash dropping everywhere from fires only a miles away and breathing that dead burned smell for many days at a time... or of if it was close, of seeing the smoke and listening to the news, then rushing from the office deeper into the hills to get my kids from Emerald College... and generally having to argue my way past roadblocks by fire or police to proceed!

This was appx 1994 to 2000, when I worked in Dingley / Keysborough and we lived in the Dandenongs (We were living for a while not far past where the first bridge on the puffing billy railway crossed the road at Selby).... followed by a year or two at Berwick - Out of sight of working steam but where we could at least hear the main line trains as they ran up the valley on the way to Gippsland.

kindest regards

Richard
 

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i was thinking of you guys the other day. its been well covered here on the news.

unortunatly the international news service in the UK is pretty poor. if its not UK or america then it usually only gets a mention. so we havent heard anyting for a couple of days. same with america. it was having a power crisis over there but it barly got a mention. very frustrating.

Peter
 

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Hi Richard,

it wasn't too bad last week. I believe the high winds were pushing it the other way but ihas become incredibly smoky now. Saturday was quite bad. Not as bad as a couple of years ago when we had lots of smoke coming over from King island yet. It's bad enough that you can't put washing out or would wish to sit out there for too long. It said on the news that there are still 12 fires still blazing nearby.

It hasn't rained for ages so the bush will still be very dry.

I know where you mean about the first bridge for Puffing Billy. Nice area but wouldn't want to be there now.

cheers

Neil
 

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I too live in Melbourne and I look out over the Dandenongs. yesterday afternoon there was lots of activity in the air, Helicoptors including "Elvis" (big water bomber from USA) flying around, apparently there was a big fire started in Belgrave just over the hills and for a while the hills were covered in smoke but fortunately "Elvis" doused it good & proper, thankgoodness!

Spottydog
 

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Just glad you're all OK

Regards
 

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Paul Hamilton aka "Lancashire Fusilier"
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There are not many degrees of separation here from someone who has lost in the tradegy with 7000 or more now homeless etc. The smoke in the city is quite unpleasant and prevents us taking our little children outside however it serves as a constant reminder to all of thus of the extent of the tradegy.

My office overlooks the Yarra River next to Flinder's Street railway station and the river has a rainbow oil slick appearance which I am told is actually from the eucalyptus oil that creates a sheen.

Further long term implications are unclear at this stage however significant agricultural areas have been destroyed with livestock and fruit & veg being totally destroyed in many cases and sadly much of the state's grape production has been lost and as such many wineries will not be producing an 09 vintage. Costs will rise and quailty will fall. It is fortunate that the water catchments have not been affected as we are already very short of water in this state.
 

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Actually Paul, they were saying on the news last night that the water might well be affected in the future as ash gets into the rainwater run off. It just hasn't happened yet as it hasn't rained but the expectation was that once it starts to rain all the ash will be washed into the reservoirs and then contaminate them.

cheers

Neil
 

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Just another modeller
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*** I'll get the bunting and arrange the tickertape parade - just let me know the flight number :) :). The kettle is on for you already!

Richard

QUOTE (Lancashire Fusilier @ 18 Feb 2009, 18:05) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Well that's just Great. I'm back to Perth then. Cheers Vic!
 

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QUOTE (Lancashire Fusilier @ 18 Feb 2009, 21:05) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Well that's just Great. I'm back to Perth then. Cheers Vic!

Nah, just joking. Have to find some humour in all this grief!
No you're alright Paul stop packing! I have just found out after mentioning this to my wife that I misheard the news report and that they were worried that the water supply would be contaminated this way. I wasn't listening properly (as I was on the computer) and just heard the latter part of that.
 

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Hopefully the worst has passed . It is worrying , our Middle Daughter lives in Seymour ,north of Melbourne and we dont hear much from her except that she is Ok. She says she has an escape plan but then I guess a lot of others thought that . We just keep hoping and praying. Tony
 
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