Just a note to everyone concerned about the fires in Melbourne
fortunately Tess and I are both well and the house and studios etc. missed the fire by about 2km
The community around St Andrews area was the worst hit with many deaths and total devastation, so there is a real sense of sadness and loss, but also a sense of thankfulness for those alive.
The good news is we live on the other side of the valley from the fire - we were away at the coast Wilsons Prom, running a workshop when it hit and we had the frustration of only finding out about it through neighbors mobile phone calls – so it was even more surreal. We drove home Sunday and Monday but now there is now a huge fire at Wilsons Prom and the while park has been evacuated.
The week before the fire assault had seen 4 days in a row over 43 degrees in Melbourne – a new heat record - which is more like 46 degrees at St Andrews and also strong drying winds with no rain for over a month so the place was like an explosive time bomb.
The day of the fire was 46.7 in Melbourne a new record and about the same in St Andrews on our thermometer with a very strong north wind coming from the desert - something like a hot fan oven in over drive. From all this hot weather, it had been evident that infrastructure like trains, power etc. were struggling in the heat and is simply not designed to cope. If you look closely at the info about computers etc many manufactures say don't operate over 35 degrees.
The fire was about 50 KM away from St Andrews which had been started by a transformer fault, and then some embers blown on the wind started a fire a few valleys over from us which began heading towards our place – the neighbors were freaking out with phone calls telling us don't expect a house when you get back. And then the wind suddenly changed and blew in at about 120km so the fire turned and rushed up the valley to the top of the mountain at speeds of about 200km - the heat was so intense that houses and cars exploded before the flames reached them. The fire was so hot there was no real smoke - just flames and fire balls - So some people had no warning or chance of escape –
We had friends who heard the fire was 50 km away and decided to head for town with neighbors for dinner - by the time they reached the end of their road to turn onto the main road three fire balls exploded out of the sky in to the bush beside their car – when they rounded the next corner the trees on both sides of the road were on fire - they managed to get out but still do not know if their house is OK – their neighbors have lost everything.
Some people coming behind them who managed to get out on the same road they had to cross over 30 fallen trees blown over in the explosive fire balls.
Tess's best friend Norma evacuated but has lost her home and vineyard, also the devastation to the nature reserve on her land is total.
We have heard accounts of friends jumping into dams with blankets over them and surviving extreme heat.
One story about a guy who jumped inside a drain pipe that ran under the road and lay in the water – as the fire passed over there were pulses of flame sucked through the pipe from one end to the other so he kept rolling in the water and survived.
However, sadly we have had some friends who perished and many more who have lost everything.
The hill across from us look like a bomb site – and the huge trees at Kinglake on the top of the ridge look like black match stick skeletons on the skyline - the St Andrews market has been set up as a Police fire an army control centre –Many of the roads have trees down over them and as the clean up is on more keep falling over –
Some of the fires are still burning close to us - so we are still tense.
Looking at the destruction and loss gives us a new insight and respect to the people we know and love.
We are both thankful to be alive and have a many friends like you
Love Lloyd and Tess