Monday, February 9, 2009

Update on the fires #2

The scale of the disaster just keeps mounting. So far there's been 173 confirmed deaths. There will probably be more as the fires continue to rage on and as bodies are found in the rubble of newly accessible parts of the disaster zone. It is so heartbreaking to watch the news as there are so many tragic stories. People whose children died while in the care of someone else, people who had their own houses burned to the ground while they were firefighting to protect someone elses home, people who could not escape their own homes in enough time to help their best friends who lived next door, people who left their beloved pets locked inside while they went out for the day and came home to find the house burned down with their pets dead in the rubble...the stories go on. It is hard enough to comprehend the tragedy of one life or home lost but to comprehend the magnitude of whole small towns almost completely burned down with 15% of their residents dying is just impossible. Victoria and possibly all of Australia has never experienced a disaster this extreme before.

It is made harder to comprehend by the fact that the authorities believe that many of the fires were not accidents of nature, but caused by arsonists. That shocks me how anyone could be so evil as to deliberately light a fire on an extreme fire risk day knowing that the fire would almost definitely cause the loss of homes and quite likely cause the loss of life. If caught it is likely that the arsonists will not only face arson charges but murder or manslaughter charges too.

I'm still feeling a bit shaken by it all. Anything that smells remotely like smoke is making me nervous at the moment. Houses got burned down within 2 miles, maybe less, from our house. As an Australian, you know that bush fires are a hazard of life here. You just don't ever expect them to come near you, especially if you live in suburbia as we do and as did some of the people who had houses burned down in my town. It could have so easily been us, especially since in wind conditions like occurred on the day burning embers can be carried by the wind and cause new fires some distance from the main front. I never want to feel like I did when we first spotted the very large and ominous looking plume of smoke again, it was such a scary and helpless feeling. At first we thought that the fire was quite close and we might have to evacuate. Trying to quickly work out what to take in the event of an evacuation was overwhelming, It took me a while to work out where I'd put my important documents because I was so frazzled.

While the loss of homes in my town was significant, it is some blessing that the main sports stadium had fire come right up to it but was not burned, nor did the rubbish dump which would have been very hazardous had it burned catch alight despite fire in close proximity. The mood amongst people here seems to be one of shock. You could not buy a newspaper anywhere here this afternoon as people snapped up all the copies in an effort to understand what had just taken place. There's also a lot of sadness because most people know someone who was impacted ether by the fires here or by fires elsewhere in the state.

I want to thank all of you who have prayed. It is wonderful to know that we are joined in prayer by people around the world. Your prayers are still very much needed. A few things you can pray for are

  • Many of the fires continue to burn and are a threat to a number of towns. Please pray that the fires would be put out quickly and not do any further damage. Please pray for peoples safety as they evacuate as many people have been killed unsuccessfully trying to outrun the fires.
  • Please pray for comfort and provision for the many people who have lost loved ones, homes, possessions and pets. Please pray for peace for those who are still waiting to find out if their loved ones or homes were lost in the fire.
  • There are quite a few people being treated for very serious burns, please pray for their healing.
  • Authorities are searching for those responsible for lighting the fires. Please pray that they would be able to correctly identify those responsible and bring them to justice.
  • Please pray for those responsible for working out where to go from here in regards to the cleanup and rebuilding as the job is massive, complex and will likely provoke a lot of emotions in many.
  • Please pray for our firefighters and other emergency services personnel. They have been working very hard in a very difficult environment and it is often quite a traumatic job as many have lost their own houses, have had friends or relatives die or have discovered bodies of the dead in the rubble.

Donate to Red Cross fire relief fund


  1. Joanna -

    I just heard about the fires on the news - heartbreaking. My prayers are with you and your country today.

  2. I prayed for you, the fire victims, and those in the fire's path. I plan to continue praying along these lines..God bless you.

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  4. Joanna-
    I am so glad you're okay! I really care so much about what happens to you and those around you. I panicked when I though of you. Please keep us updated.

    So much love to you Joanna. And not just that cyber fakey-fake stuff. The love of Christ from me to you.


  5. i know from the hurricane, how "in shock" you can feel. please keep us updated.
    prayers & love

  6. The news reports we are seeing here are heartbreaking and so much like what we experienced here this year. I'm sure like here people really are in shock. There is nothing that prepares you for a disaster of that magnitude. We were all wandering around like a bunch of zombies. I was so aware in the middle of it that God was holding on to us, even when all I could do was turn my face in His general direction. May you know His strong presence with you as you walk through this. I will be praying and if it's ok with you I would like to send your update to others I know who will be praying too. Please keep us posted.

  7. Please feel free to pass on my updates to others who are praying if you feel it would help. Thank you so much everyone for your support and prayers. It means so much.

    The death toll keeps rising. i think its at 181 now and it is predicted it may rise to 300. To put the severity of that in perspective the second deadliest fire disaster in Australian history killed 75. It is so very tragic

    Now that the fire in my area is out i went for a drive to the affected part of town tonight. Even if you've seen many pictures of it on the news the sight of a pile of charred rubble where a house once stood is very disturbing. The damage was so random. Some people had everything on their property burn but the next door neighbors were just fine. The fire randomly stopped at the edge of some properties but kept going into others. Why some people were so unfortunate when many others near them were fine is hard to make sense of.

  8. Our prayers continue to be with you who are facing this tragedy. Stay blessed...john

  9. Joanna, I was directed to you from katdish. Please know I'm lifting you in prayer this noon. It's so hard to understand the sense of it all, but certainly hope you will find some peace in comfort from our prayers. Stay safe, Candy

  10. Joanna -

    What's going on with the fires? We are getting next to nothing as far as news here in the states.

    Take care.

  11. Most of the fires have been put out, although there is still a few going. Theres yet to be confirmation on the extent of loss of live & other damage as they keep finding more

    I'll try and pull some info together for another post in the next day or 2 but in the meantime the 2 major newspapers for the state which have very regularly updated coverage are

  12. I have been wondering about you all down there. Will continue praying for your safety. Take care and God's blessings.