February 8, 2009


Victoria and NSW are burning.

Death toll in Victoria now confirmed at 35, and rising.

The army has been called in to assist in Victoria, with fires expected to rage for days.

Update: While firebugs are being blamed for several blazes ravaging Victoria, the Country Fire Authority has confirmed that several fires are being deliberately relit by arsonists.

Update II: 36 confirmed dead, 640 homes lost.

Update III: 65 confirmed dead.

Update IV: death toll 76. Channel 9 has just confirmed that the veteran news reader Brian Naylor, who lives in fire-ravaged Kinglake West, can not be accounted for.

Update V: The bodies of Brian Naylor and his wife Moiree Naylor have been found.

Update VI: 108 bodies found so far, 750 homes destroyed, up to 5000 homeless. Fires in Victoria continue to threaten some townships. South Australian residents warned of extreme fire danger for their region this weekend.

Update VII: "We start coughing and gasping for air. Life is rapidly beginning to narrow to a grim, but inevitable choice. Die from the toxic smoke inside. Die from the firestorm outside." - senior journalist Gary Hughes vividly describes how lives are lost, and some spared, but only just - Cheating flames of death.

Update VIII: Geoffrey Blainey provides a potted history of our worst fires: "We live in one of the world's most hazardous bushfire zones. In our recorded history, there has been no bushfire as spectacular as February 1851 ...". Shocking heat on shocking day. This has not been the worst, will not be the last, but it has been the most deadly. 111 confirmed dead at this time. Nearly a dozen critical cases in hospital, numerous on life support. The search for bodies continues.

Update IX:
126 bodies found. 20 people in hospital with burns are critical.

Update X:
Radio news is saying 176 confirmed dead. Many areas still in danger, coming under ember attack. Police circling in on arsonists.

CFA fire fighter shares some water with a homeless koala. Via Herald Sun

Updates at The Australian


  1. Just so awful Caz..
    I hope to God that these fires can be contained real soon. I'll be praying for rain.
    The fact that there are some mongrel bastards around, that are relighting fires, beggars belief.
    How can some people be so cruel and uncaring?People have lost their homes and in some cases their lives, here! Such devastation, pain and grief!
    These arsonists should be charged with murder and locked up!

  2. I read about these fires and my first
    thought was of you guys. It's a sad state of affairs when degenerates get away with acts such as these. I can only hope there is some earthly retribution for this kind of evil.

  3. The still pictures, as always, say it all.

    Utter tradgedy. The tv news services are turning it into "fires of Our Lives" - as you'd expect - trying to outdo each other in scenes of death and devastation.

    It is - as always - those involved who bring matters back to reality. The firefighter who, whilst fighting the fires, lost his home and belongings and elected to continue at the fire front comes to mind. As does the fellow who, having lost everyting and noticing the arseholes driving by and sight-seeing, wonderered whether they might actually stop and offer some help.

    Of course not: there's suffering to be gawked at.

    Sixty-five dead. So far. A national disaster.

  4. Anonymous7:25 PM

    65 dead? Crikey - before I went to bed last night the Herald-Sun was saying 'just' 14. Shocking news made worse by the the fact these seem to have been deliberately lit. Unbelieveable.

  5. Now 66 Dylan. It's impossible to believe the numbers won't go higher. A news special was just speculating that deaths could reach triple digits, but lets hope not. (Shock & awe - the higher the figure the more hyperbolic. It should be cause for more somber coverage. Most true disasters speak for themselves.)

    Given how many people (those who survived) were stunned & caught out by the speed with which the fires moved, it's quite conceivable that more have lost their lives than currently identified, having likewise underestimated how quickly fires overtake everything. There are also a couple of dozen in hospital with burns, some in critical condition.

    Yes Father, it's always the individual stories that make you want to weep. The couple safe, almost calmly stating that they thought their neighboring couple "hadn't made it out alive" and waiting to see if their bodies are found. Or the father arriving at a house seeking help, holding one child, both he and the child burnt, his wife and other child already dead.

  6. It's been observed that, on occasion, I can be an emotional fellow. Tonight I'm, emotionally, with your Premier.

    Some of what I've seen reported - as you've written of - would elicit empathy from a stone.

  7. More tragic news Caz.

  8. Anonymous10:51 PM

    French news is now reporting at least 84 dead and suggesting more to come. The images are just incredible and almost hard to believe - walls of fire the size of my apartment building, for crissakes.

    There's a special place in hell for the guys who think it's funny to light fires.

  9. Yes, see my updates too Dylan.

    You'd remember Brian Naylor?

    "May your news be good news, and goodnight".

    He and his wife both confirmed dead.

  10. Anonymous7:27 AM

    I don't think I ever saw him on the tele - was he on in WA or just in Melbourne?

    French news just flashed 108 now confirmed dead. Just shocking stuff.

  11. Naylor was news reader on Channel 9 in Melbourne for decades Dylan. A "legend", an "icon" an "institution" in Victoria, as he is variously being called. While in the scheme of things, no worse than all the other lives lost, but people grew up with him on the telly, so it puts a personal face on such a massive event.

    Sounds like there are particular areas where fire fighters believe arson might have played a part, but all fires will be examined.

  12. I am sorry this is happening. We are seeing it on TV.

  13. Are there any fires near you?

  14. Hi Snaps

    The map that did show where all the fires were has been replaced with one showing where deaths occured - that's here - http://tinyurl.com/c5ypfq (sorry, not hyperlink, just copy the URL).

    I'm in Melbourne, inner city, so not directly affected. If you look for the "M1" square, in the bay area, that's Melbourne. The fires (not now shown) were essentially scattered left, right and top, a horseshoe around Melbourne. Many still burning. The closest fires to the city were around an hour or so drive away, so no direct threat to the city. The worst were 90 minutes to 2 hour drive away, and others further out, across the state of Victoria.

    So many heart breaking stories, gut wrenching.

    Not over yet.

  15. Have heard news growing more horrible each day. Just checking in to see how are faring. Glad to hear you are fine. Is Yhtak OK too?

  16. Yhtak is in Perth, Western Aust, Cube, so they're good, they're safe. Gets a whole lot hotter in Perth, but don't have the same issues with bush fires as we have on this side of the country.

    181 dead now confirmed. Difficult to comprehend.

    More than 5000 or so now homeless.

  17. I'm glad you guys are safe, but I feel awful for those others who weren't so lucky.