February 26th, 2009 09:05 EST
New Flash Fires Strike the Outskirts of Melbourne
The fires had all tempered in the suburbs surrounding the Melbourne while residents combed through what withstood the blaze and salvaged what remained of their life before February 7th. That day, Black Saturday as officials called it, saw the immense forestland around Melbourne stricken with drought flare up, causing citizens in the endangered zones to flee for their lives. Many of the residents brave enough to tough it out and clash with the wildfire themselves not only lost the battle but lost their lives. As the firefighters and emergency workers contained the firestorm engulfing the region, they stumbled on the charred remains of those who were burned alive in their cars or running from the inferno. The iconic picture depicting a firefighter helping quench a koala bear`s thirst only alluded to the sense of tragedy and the resilience to overcome it.
Since that dark day, government officials declared to all citizens that if another fire occurs: they must decide swiftly whether or not to leave or stay and help to put out the blaze. Black Saturday`s infernos destroyed over 1,800 homes and forced over 7,500 people from their properties. A total of 209 fatalities have been confirmed thus far while the latent effects of the disaster can only be tabulated in the years to come.
To commemorate the victims of the fires, this past Sunday was deemed a national day of mourning all across Australia. Even Princess Anne, Queen Elizabeth II`s daughter, viewed the destruction in the afflicted towns firsthand on the woeful day.
On Monday, when the country resumed their daily lives, new fires started in areas where authorities had perceived were contained. Recollections on the mass devastation from the first widespread forest fires drove those residents from homes still standing for the assets most important to them. The flames soon advanced towards neighboring Melbourne, Australia`s second largest city. Luckily the danger of the fire was thwarted as firefighters sprung into action before it could do any more damage. Only one house was destroyed in the city of Belgrave South. But with the local populous still edgy after February 7th, the terror`s impact on them was palpable.
One woman commented to the Australian Broadcasting Corp. television as she got ready to leave Warburton, an eastern suburb of Melbourne.
I`m no hero " take the house.
A short distance away in Yarra Junction, Dawn Brown and her husband Ray evacuated their home with some priceless family heirlooms and a video of their nuptials in tow. She spoke a few candid words to a reporter from ABC.
I would`ve liked to stay a bit longer but Ray said, No, we`re going and we`re going now.`
Emergency centers in the area readied quickly for the influx of deposed residents seeking shelter in the meantime.
A pair of fires erupted throughout southern Victoria State, with the temperatures rising to the mid-80`s Fahrenheit and strong gusts only worsening the fires` growth. One forest fire that had been burning for over a week burst over Melbourne, sending cinders to blanket parts of the city.
Two firefighters amidst the drafts in Belgrave South sustained minor injuries. The flare-up leveled nearly 5,000 acres in the city according to stats from the Country Fire Authority.
The same authority reduced the level of threat caused by the fire on Monday night and declared that the fires in Daylesford and Warburton were under control.
Shortly after the fires were doused on Monday, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Victoria Premier John Brumby stated that both their governments would cover the clean-up costs that may amount to 25,000 Australian dollars for each of them. Though he didn`t reveal what the dollar amounts were, John Brumby released an official announcement to reporters in Melbourne.
The cleanup task is absolutely crucial to getting on with the task of rebuilding.
Before the country can fully heal, they must first commence in cleaning up the wreckage left after the blazes. Entire towns were completely annihilated by the fires. Police have been commissioned to keep bystanders away from the recovery sites where many of the human remains still haven`t been identified. In their investigations into the cause of the conflagration, police have charged one man for arson in one of the blazes started and are treating another fire as suspected arson.
With the country gripped in years of continual drought, it only took a spark and strong winds to devour dry underbrush and forests. It may only take a matter of days before another fire kindles to try the ragged spirits of residents and firefighters.