"Christmas Firestorms" Wollongong by colin_bramso
Wollongong Travel Guide: 193 reviews and 574 photos
But it's also one of the areas threatened by the terrible bushfires all around Sydney over Christmas 2001. For anyone planning to visit Australia any year during the fire season it's a story worth telling, to warn of the danger of bushfire.
It started on Christmas Day. Already hot, in the high thirties, a very hot westerly wind started building. There'd been no rain for weeks. The wind strength increased. Inevitably, bush fires started...originally from lightning strikes. Then the lunatics came out, lighting more.
By the end of the day, there were 100 huge fires raging. And I mean huge. One was reported by firefighters as burning on a 25 kilometre front with flames 30 metres high, travelling at 20 kilometres an hour.
Just pause a moment and think about that. That is terrifying! People lost their homes, 150 in the one day. Christmas Day. Many were left with literally nothing but the T-shirts and shorts they were wearing.
After about ten days we had unexpected rain which dampened down many of the fires, although it didn't completely put them out so they were expected to flare again if we got high winds. Others had no rain, so continued to burn out of control. Those still burning after three weeks were surrounded by quickly-built containment lines. These firebreaks were also built around populated areas.
Bushfires we get here are so huge it's impossible to fight them, firefighters can only try to contain them to save lives and property. The size of the fires means they create their own local weather conditions, so they are unpredictable and highly dangerous, swirling in different directions.
They behave in ways they're not supposed to, running downhill and against the wind. It's a miracle we didn't have any serious injuries. The animals are not as lucky, of course. Tens of thousands will have been killed, many more were found wandering injured, sadly a lot so badly burned they had to be destroyed. Not only wildlife, of course, people lost livestock...and pets.
I've continued the story in a Travelogue, which I wrote as the drama unfolded. To read the story, just click the link.
Great location to the north of the city, across the road from the beach. Ask for a beachfront room, the views are... more travel advice
If the firefighters or police order an evacuation of the area you're in, you must obey the order. Evacuations are only... more travel advice
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