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2006 Victoria Bushfires Update #1

 Bushfire Picture2

Yesterday the air in the Melbourne area was just as dark and smoky as it was from my last update on the bushfires.  However, today the air has cleared up substantially.  I can actually see some of the blue of the sky today.  There is still a bit of a smoky mist but not to bad.  The wind must have shifted overnight and pushed the smoke back towards the east  because I can’t even smell the smoke anymore. I was planning on going camping next week at Mt. Buller which is near the town of Mansfield, but due to the bushfires it looks like I won’t being doing that anymore.  As you can see from this map Mansfield is almost completely surrounded by the fires:

 Victoria Bushfire Map

Mansfield is the town where "The Man From Snowy River" was filmed and many of the extras from that movie are actual cowboys from that town.  Now many of the property owners in the Mansfield area are fighting to save their homes from these massive bushfires.  On the radio they were saying many roads in the Mansfield area have been closed, plus all the roads in the Mt. Buller area are closed as well due to the fires.   Also they were saying authorities were asking people to limit calls to the emergency 000 number in order to allow people effected by the bushfires to call in and that the heavy smoke was hampering helicopter operations to put out the fires.  Plus a total fire ban has been place on Victoria.  You can’t even BBQ on your patio without facing thousands of dollars in fines.  There just isn’t any firefighters left to fight fires caused by BBQ mishaps. These bushfires according to the government and authorties may rank as one of the worst in the country’s history:

IT has been the waiting time throughout Victoria. As several thousand firefighters battled blazes in the state’s high country yesterday, it was with the knowledge that the weekend might bring a monster blaze to compare with Black Friday in 1939.

Much of Victoria’s east and northeast was blanketed by smoke last night, with fears that blazes spreading across state forests and the Alpine National Park could merge into a roaring 100km firefront tearing across up to one-fifth of the tinder-dry state.

John Howard described the situation yesterday as "very scary", and said Victoria would get all the commonwealth assistance it needed. "It’s very, very scary stuff and the terrible combination of circumstances – high temperature, low humidity, all of those things – are very bad indeed," the Prime Minister told Southern Cross radio. Victorian Premier Steve Bracks compared the threatening blaze to the state’s worst bushfire disaster, saying: "This is going to be probably one of the worst fire periods we have seen in Victoria in the history of this state. "Probably the only comparable time would go back to 1939, Black Friday, where we saw a similar fire activity go through the alpine area and go through to the coast as well." The bushfires of 1939 burnt out more than 2 million hectares, destroyed entire towns and killed 71 people. With firefighting experience totalling more than 80 years, John Mitchell and Bob Pearce have fought blazes up and down the east coast, seen lives lost and millions of hectares razed, but both say the fires raging through Victoria’s alpine country are the worst they’ve seen.

Here is what downtown Melbourne looked like yesterday:

 Melbourne Bushfire Haze

It was so thick I was actually getting a sore throat from breathing the ashes in.  So it was a good day to stay indoors.  Today it is clear enough that I will actually go outside and work on my lawn while can before the wind shifts and moves the smoke back over here again. It looks like the bushfires are going to be burning for possibly months and the ones who will have it the worst are the wildlife:

 Wildlife Effected by Bushfires

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