Ash Wednesday Fires devastated two States Victoria and
South Australia on February 16th 1983.
This was a scene that greeted countless families when they returned
to their homes on Ash Wednesday.
The coastal area near the Otway Ranges was one of the many places
hit hard by Ash Wednesday fires.
Ash Wednesday Fires.
In many ways the Ash Wednesday fires were worse than the Black Friday fires, there were 75 lives lost (4 more than Black Friday) there were more than twice as many homes destroyed.
The main difference in the two disasters was the location, Ash Wednesday struck in far more settled areas, which accounted for the fact of more homes destroyed, it burned out less than half the area and was pretty much contained in only one day, a relatively small amount of the terrain was in forest country.
In the 44 years between these disasters there had been many changes we now have the very efficient Country Fire Authority and a rural fire brigade at every town, there are now much better roads, every brigade has a fire truck with water tanks and pumps, two way radio communication is the norm now, and aerial fire fighting, while in it’s infancy in 1983 did play a part.
Weather conditions leading up to the Ash Wednesday fires.
Between April 1982 and January 1983,
Note; These conditions have been repeated over and over again, right up to the fires that are currently burning in
Where did the Ash Wednesday bushfires start?
Around 180 bushfires broke out on
How did the Ash Wednesday bushfires start?
The bushfires started in a number of ways: through the clashing of electric power lines, tree branches connecting with power lines, fires being deliberately lit, and through unknown causes.
How much damage was caused in the fires?
The Victorian fires burnt an area around 500,000 acres. A great number of people lost their homes, possessions, stores, equipment, machinery and stock in the fires.
How many lives were lost in the fires?
The Ash Wednesday fires claimed 75 lives in total, 47 in
How many homes were lost in the fires?
In Victoria, more than 2,000 houses were destroyed and several hundred in
How long did it take to control the fires?
Most of the major Ash Wednesday fires were controlled on the day, some in two to eight hours, others in a couple of days. Accessibility to the fires played a large part in how quickly fires were brought under control.
During the years I lived in
Lara bushfire 1969 - 8 January.
280 fires broke out on
At this time I lived in
a six lane freeway it was beyond belief that 17 people could be
killed by a bushfire on this freeway.
It turned out that these motorists could not see where they were going in the dense smoke, there were some large culverts under the roadway to take water away where one group of motorists stopped, thinking they would be safer there than in their cars with the danger of fuel tanks exploding they sheltered in the culverts and were all asphyxiated by smoke, none of the cars exploded by the way.
Avoca bushfire 1985 - 14 January.
A major fire in
In 1985 I was living on a farming property 5 miles west of Maryborough and 15 miles south of Avoca where this fire was deliberately lit by someone with a grudge against the local timber mill.
It burned to within a half mile of our property but luckily was being directed past us by a strong wind, some friends in the area were not so lucky although none of our friends were injured or burnt out many lost stock, fences and outbuildings.
People respect you because
they feel you've survived hard times
and although you've become famous,
you haven't become phony.