The fire scene in Victoria has become both tragic and dramatic over the past day. These are the worst fires in Australian history. As it stands at least 66 people have died and 700 families have lost their home. It is a tragedy beyond belief for those concerned - many people are under extreme stress because those close to them are still missing. Many have lost everything in terms of homes and property.
Most - not all - of the fires are close to Melbourne. Some are focused around my favoured nature reserves around Melbourne (Kinglake, Bunyip Forest) have suffered huge damages. Some of the small townships in these areas now no longer exist. Kinglake looks as if it has been bombed. Communities have been devastated - in every sense it is a disaster.
The fires follow a dry 12 months, an extremely dry January which ended in a 4 day heatwave and temperatures on Saturday which were the highest in 155 years. It was a scorcher but it was associated too with high winds which regrettably changed direction. It was a terrible coincidence of circumstances. Things were not helped by arsonists who are thought to have started several blazes.
My heartfelt sympathies to those families who are affected and my praise to the outstanding efforts of the CFA many of whom have been fighting fires for a week or more. An amazing and praiseworthy effort.
As chance would have it I am flying to North Queensland tomorrow where there have been severe floods. I am going to Cairns where there has been flash flooding over recent hours.
What a bizarre and tragic meteorological equilibrium!