The bushfire in the Waroona-Yarloop-Harvey area was started by a lightning strike and even though the bushfire is over 60kms from where I live I have felt paralysed the last few days thinking about the two men who died in their homes, the infrastructure and over 100 homes destroyed, over 72 thousand hectares of farmland and bushland that has been destroyed, the farm animals that may have been lost, and the wild animals that have lost their lives in the fire.
We have been glued to the radio and internet listening for emergency warning updates. Even where we live in suburbia we were on an "Alert". Fearing a spot fire caused by flying burning embers, we went out into the yard and swept up dry leaves and cleared out of our gutters. As I worked I felt sick with nervousness. I couldn't imagine what those affected by the fire were going through.
Hundreds of people have been evacuated from the area to two evacuation centres, residents and holiday makers at Preston Beach have sheltered on the beach or been taken away by boat. Some people fled their homes with only the clothes they were wearing. Some, in the small town of Yarloop stayed to try and defend their homes, only to watch it burn to the ground before they were evacuated. The historic railway and timber industry workshops and museum in Yarloop were completely destroyed.
The fire crews, volunteer bushfire brigades, pilots, water bombers, drivers, cooks, logistics personnel, Dept of Fire & Emergency Services, Dept of Parks & Wildlife, residents and individuals, have been doing a huge job battling this blaze in the blistering heat and shifting windy conditions, trying to put in containment lines, protecting homes and doing their part to assist. Even down to the grandmother repairing her grandson's fire fighting clothing between shifts. I salute you all. You are our heroes.
The list goes on - so many doing what they can to assist - collecting donations, feeding and sheltering wandering stock, vets helping injured animals, people supplying firefighters with food, holding fund raising events, comforting those that have lost everything.
As I write, on Sunday afternoon there is still a bushfire emergency warning in place, there is still a threat to lives, homes and property, and people in the path of the fire are being urged to evacuate.
Update Monday morning 11 January - Fire emergency situation has now been downgraded to "watch & act". The fire is contained but not controlled. There is still a threat to lives & homes, and conditions in the area are still unsafe.
Mild weather conditions overnight have assisted the firefighters. So the situation is far better than it was a few days ago.
Here is a short video from the Dept Of Parks & Wildlife which may give you some dramatic insight.
A paragraph from an interesting article from The Bushfire Front
The fundamental message
Crown fires in eucalypt forest remain as unstoppable today as they have ever been. Once a bushfire is burning through the tops of the trees and throwing a jet-stream of burning embers down-wind, there is no technology on this earth that will stop it.
Water bombers do a great job under favourable conditions, but they cannot operate under high winds, or at night or when thick smoke reduces visibility.
During the Black Saturday fires in Victoria, water bombers and helicopters had to be grounded because of the high winds around the fires. In 1961 the towns of Dwellingup, Holyoake and Nanga Brook in Western Australia all burnt at night when water bombers, even if they been available, could not have operated.
________________________________The two major highways leading from Perth to Bunbury where I live have been closed. One of these will be closed for some time as a bridge was destroyed. Luckily there is an alternative route, be-it a long deviation.
Here are some views from my house on Thursday. Yes, I could have probably driven to where I could have got some dramatic photos of the fire and smoke cloud from a safe distance, but honestly this is as close as I wanted to be, especially when burnt leaves started to fall into our yard. The bottom RH corner photo was the sky thick with smoke on Friday.
On Friday evening, with smoke still in the air we went for a walk along the river and estuary near our home. There were not many people about, there was not a breath of breeze, and the atmosphere was eerie. You can see the smoke hanging in these pictures.
By Saturday afternoon there had been a wind shift with a light westerly blowing in from the ocean and sending the fire in a more easterly direction away from farmland and population centres and into the state forest. Here the fire will be more difficult to control but at least it is going away from Harvey and the populated areas south.
On Sunday morning, the smoke was clearing from where we live and blowing inland. We decided to go for a walk down Cathedral Avenue along the Leschenault Estuary. This is a lovely place to walk by the water between the paperbark trees. The trees form an arch over the old road, which is now mostly a walk or bike path, hence the name "Cathedral Avenue".
The grey sky you can see here is a mixture of cloud and smoke.
Some birds and animals along our walk. There are always heaps of kangaroos in the paddocks along here. The pic middle left shows a big male with a joey. Sorry, the black swans pic is from a previous walk, the swans today were further away.
These kangaroos, birds and animals are safe - unlike those in the path of the bushfire.
I love bark textures, there are also some old olive trees from earlier settlement, and we also saw a lot of blackened gun leaves blown here from the fire.
Lastly today, I leave you with a couple of photos from the beginning of January - a beautiful sunset over the Leschenault Estuary and playing with slow shutter speed on the beach one evening. All I can do is be grateful, donate what I can and pray for those affected by the fire, especially those that have lost their homes. I cannot even start to imagine what they must be going through right now. Our bushland will recover, it won't be so easy for families.
To donate to the Lord Mayor's Distress Relief Fund please click here - AppealsWA
Thank you so much for stopping by. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Take care and have a wonderful week.
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Bushwalking at Hoffman's Mill
A walk on the Bibbulmun Track with volunteers
Paperbark Cathedral, Leschenault Estuary