Murray Nicoll , a journalist from radio station 5DN and resident of the Adelaide Hills, reported live from his local area where five people died:. At the moment, I'm watching my house burn down. I'm sitting out on the road in front of my own house where I've lived for 13 or 14 years and it's going down in front of me. And the flames are in the roof and—Oh, God damn it. It's just beyond belief—my own house. And everything around it is black. There are fires burning all around me. All around me. And the front section of my house is blazing.
The roof has fallen in. My water tanks are useless. There is absolutely nothing I can do about it. The flames roared up the tower of Carminow like a chimney, destroying everything, including the wonderful gardens. Next door at Eurilla, Kym and Julie Bonython lost all of their worldly possessions, including antiques, paintings, and most regrettably, Kym Bonython's extensive Jazz Record collection. He saved only his favourite motorbike. At this time, this part of the Adelaide Hills was still not connected to the mains water supply, so all of the houses had only petrol powered pumps and rainwater tanks.
Across the road at Pine Lodge formerly the Mt Lofty Tea Rooms , the resident rolled out the property's fire hose, connected it to the working diesel pump, only to find that embers were already burning numerous holes in the hose, rendering it useless. Flames across the road and road blocks prevented the family from returning to the house, until it was burnt to the ground. All of these houses have since been restored and are privately owned. Mount Lofty House has since been turned into a boutique hotel. St Michael's House, a mansion converted to an Anglican monastery in the s, was also burnt in the fires, but not restored and the whole site has since been cleared, leaving only the ruins of the gate house.
Of the 26 people who died in South Australia, 12 were in metropolitan areas, including four in the Adelaide suburb of Greenhill. The most disastrous factor in the Ash Wednesday fires occurred just before nightfall when a fierce and dry wind change swept across South Australia and Victoria. This abruptly changed the direction and dramatically increased the intensity of the fires. The near-cyclonic strength of the wind change created an unstoppable firestorm  that produced tornado-like fire whirls and fireballs of eucalyptus gas measuring over three metres across.
Survivors reported that the roar of the fire front was similar to that of a jet engine, though multiplied fifty, a hundred times. The change in temperature and air pressure was so savage that houses were seen exploding before fire could touch them. It was just this bloody great force. It wasn't fire by itself. It wasn't just the wind.
It was something different to that. The freakish conditions spawned unique effects: a car was forced 90m along a road with its handbrake on, burning mattresses were seen hurtling through the air,  steaks were cooked well-done in deep freezers [ dubious — discuss ] , road surfaces bubbled and caught fire and sand liquefied to glass.
A: Whilst this was unfolding in Australia, there has been a very late fire season in California. Department of Sustainability and Environment. How do I find a book? An emergency disaster plan was also legislated known as Displan. Make an Offer. Skip to main content. Retrieved 14 February
In fact, the Ash Wednesday fires were measured at around 60, kilowatts of heat energy per metre, leading to similarities with the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Whole townships were obliterated in minutes. In the Dandenong Ranges, the villages of Cockatoo and Upper Beaconsfield were devastated, with twelve volunteer firefighters losing their lives after being trapped by a wall of flame when the wind change struck, while parts of Belgrave Heights where this fire started and Belgrave South suffered large areas of property loss.
Most of Macedon and much of historic Mount Macedon to the north west of Melbourne was razed, including many heritage listed 19th century mansions and famed gardens. The fire on the coast had been so intense that firefighters were forced to abandon all control efforts and let it burn until it reached the ocean, destroying everything in its path.
Many of the Victorian fires were thought to have been caused by sparks between short-circuiting power lines, and tree branches connecting with power lines. A systematic review of fire safety was undertaken; areas under high tension pylons were cleared and local domestic lines considered to be at risk were replaced with insulated three-phase supply lines. In South Australia, an inquest into the fires found that the communication systems used by the Country Fire Service were inadequate and, as a result, the Government radio network was installed, although this did not happen until almost 20 years later.
An emergency disaster plan was also legislated known as Displan. Many of the lessons learned in building better homes for fire survival, bush management and emergency response efficiency in analysis of the fires conducted by the CSIRO were to prove vital in later crises, including the Eastern seaboard and Canberra fire outbreaks.
A study was conducted into the 32 fatalities excluding firefighters that occurred in Victoria. It revealed that 25 were outside their homes, several of whom died in vehicles while attempting to escape the conflagration. It was found that delaying evacuation until the last minute was a common failing.
Until the Black Saturday bushfires , Ash Wednesday had the highest recorded death toll for a bushfire disaster, with 75 deaths. It remains well known as one of the worst natural disasters in Australia's history. Many psychological studies were undertaken in the months and years after the fire and found that the events left many in the affected communities with the effects of posttraumatic stress disorder PTSD , even 20 years after the disaster in The lasting impact of Ash Wednesday was highlighted in , when its 25th anniversary received much public and media attention.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the bushfires in Victoria and South Australia. For the bushfires in South Australia, see Ash Wednesday bushfires. Aftermath of the Ash Wednesday bushfires at Mount Macedon. Main article: Melbourne dust storm. A: Bushfires". A Disasters Database. Emergency Management Australia, Australian Government. Archived from the original on 12 February Retrieved 25 May Department of Sustainability and Environment.
Archived from the original on 27 March Retrieved 16 February Country Fire Authority Victoria, Australia. Archived from the original on 23 March Retrieved 10 May Australian Government — Bureau of Meteorology. Archived from the original on 17 March Sydney: Allen and Unwin.
Archived from the original on 11 February Retrieved 16 May Melbourne, Australia: Hargreen Publishing Company. The Complete Bushfire Safety Book. Sydney, Australia: Random House Australia. I Melbourne, Australia: State Government of Victoria. Briefing Paper No. Archived from the original PDF on 28 May Retrieved 17 May Report " PDF. Emergency Management Australia. You can view this on the NLA website. Login Register. Advanced search Search history. Browse titles authors subjects uniform titles series callnumbers dewey numbers starting from optional.
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