Hard Lockdown One Day, Raging Bushfire the Next

When I got up this morning (3:30AM), there was the strong smell of smoke. I thought nothing further of it, other than it was quite a bit stronger than usual when there is a fire. Afterall, we have lived in rural and remote Australia, where it is quite common for bushfires to be literally on your doorstep. However, when I went outside a bit later to look at the garden, I noticed little bits of ash everywhere. Then, as I turned on the garden hose and looked to the sunrise that was unfolding, I saw a rising sun impacted by a well known bushfire haze.

The bushfire east of Perth, has since starting at lunch time yesterday, doubled in size overnight. It has increased its perimeter to 75km (area in red below), with fronts up to 20kms long. It is issuing spot fires up to 3.5kms (the danger of wind being present) ahead and has burned through at least 7 000 hectares of land and property. 80% of rural properties in some localities are gone. Homes have been lost, trucks and vehicles burnt out. People in the the black highlighted have been told they cannot leave. If they try to leave now they will certainly perish. Sadly, they do not have too many options ahead of them, other than to try and find the most safe place possible. People who have managed to evacuate earlier today were in a state of confusion. They were trying to balance the COVID containment criteria while trying to escape from an uncontrollable bushfire. Commonsense has prevailed though, with the powers that be advising those impacted need to be safe from the fire, first, COVID, second. Evacuation centres have now been established.

There are currently more than 500 firefighters, 90 firefighting appliances and water bombers in attendance (professionals and volunteers). A fair number of them I know personally and have helped me tackle bushfires in other parts of Western Australia. The firefighters are protecting people and their homes as well as fighting the fire. There is dramatic film footage of fire fighting vehicles just managing to get out ahead of the fire. Some firefighters have been injured. The tip of this fire is into the outer suburbs, only 10kms away from where we live. That being said we have smaller fires much, much closer to us. One aspect to note is that our large fires tend to burn work days and weeks at a time. Home owners over a very wide area are making their homes fire safe – wetting them down, filling up the gutters with water and so on.

Wooroloo fire from high in the CBD.
The Wooroloo Fire last night as seen from the centre of Perth. Credit: Reddit/78Monk

One of the great things regarding how we manage emergencies in Western Australia, is that all hazards, whether they be a significant storm, cyclone, bushfire, flood, bio-hazard and more are made available online on a statewide map with current information that can be accessed at any time. So, today we know we are dealing with six bushfires, a cyclone that is forming, flooding in a number of areas and of course, COVID. At least we know where we stand, even if it does feel like a Zulu buffalo horns formation pincer movement. The irony is, the cyclone may provide some level of rain that may help tackle the fire later in the week.

Firefighters battling an intense bushfire at Wooroloo last night. It remains at an Emergency Warning.
Firefighters on the ground last night. Credit: DFES Incident Photographers Evan Collis; Greg Bell and Brenden Scott/DFES
Firefighters are still battling an intense bushfire at Wooroloo, which remains at an Emergency Warning.
Firefighters on the ground. Credit: DFES Incident Photographers Evan Collis; Greg Bell and Brenden Scott/DFES
Burnt out fire truck from the Wooraloo fire
Burnt out fire truck from the Wooraloo fire Credit: Kim Thorson, DFES

Background information credits include:

The West Australian

ABC News

Emergency WA

9News

Here’s a shout out to all of those hard working and committed emergency services personnel and volunteers who work so hard to keep us all safe!

26 thoughts on “Hard Lockdown One Day, Raging Bushfire the Next

    1. It is very smoky outside. Yes, we are on hard lockdown again – much stronger measures than before due to someone infected with the UK strain. Our QR system has worked a treat with tracing their movements, so waiting on outcomes of testing of all people in each location visited – which is a lot of people – Day 1 alone yesterday yielded 16,490 tests.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, KK. Lives have been spared, but an awful lot of housing and property damage has been done. A saving grace has definitely been the highway between us and the fire, acting as a firebreak even though it certainly jumped across in places and then started burning northwards. The fire perimeter was at 136kms this morning. However, cleanup and containment has been effective, and cooler weather is helping. Looks like we are now in for some rain as well from tomorrow

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank God, it was a devastating fire, with parameter of 136 kms. Sean, it’s a miracle that there was no loss to life. All the best, Sean! God bless you all 🙏

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I hesitated on pushing the Like button, because, obviously no one but a pyromaniac “Likes
    ” a wildfire that causes evacuations and damage. Praying for your situation in Oz, that God will be merciful and send some rains.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I guess that’s the issue with the Like button, but I think most people accept is it recognition of what has been shared. Today, they have made a lot of progress re the fire. The rain is actually due to start from tomorrow. That should help somewhat. It’s timely because the firefighters are fatigued.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah Sean – praying for all of you!

    Firefighters are the bravest souls on the planet. I truly admire their courage. I remember the fires from last year and the story of the woman who rescued that poor burned koala. Hoping that the area the fire is located at does not have a lot of wildlife.

    Your sunrise photo is stunning. Just stunning.

    Sending all the love and light I can from here to there. Please be safe. The world is going through some painful growth right now Sean.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your prayers, Rita. I think they have worked 😊

      Not enough can be said about firefighters. When I look at the number of firefighters that I know who are there, it becomes even more palpable. My dad was a volunteer firefighter for much of his life. There is a lot of wildlife in that part of the world. I am sure the fast moving animals would have hightailed it out of there.

      Imagine the photo if I had a decent camera and knew what I was doing. The colours were far more stunning than the end result, but at least I got the shot!

      Painful growth is a really good way to describe the world over right now. Growth is happening at different rates, but it is happening. I did read an article the other day as to why we tend to ignore the possibility of pandemic events and other disasters (i.e. the mindset of it will never happen). It all comes back to not challenging ourselves enough about what we don’t know – so in other words, we need to stop saying we do know, when in fact we don’t, and start filling in the gaps. COVID has been a big lesson on that front.

      We are staying safe. Although we will now be able to leave our homes again from 6PM tonight, we still have to stay within our regions for the next 14 days.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Sean and thanks for sharing that “wicked” sunrise.

    The other telling sight from Tuesday was the sunset, as the sun changed colour from crimson to gold to red and repeat as it sunk beneath the band of haze hovering above the horizon.

    Living around 50 miles south of Perth, the smoke aroma only made it here around lunch-time today.

    So, from the Christmas Star confluence (2020) to the Quadruple Whammy you described, is here indeed anything “precedented or otherwise” for us to double down on in 2021?

    As always, love your insights, SurePaw,
    Stephen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Stevo

      As soon as I spotted the “wicked” sunrise, I had to take a snap. The photo doesn’t do it justice re the colour scheme that was going on. Yes, I think you would have had quite the view re the sunset where you are!

      I thought I might mention that, not long after our discussion the other day, the tour to South Africa was canned. Maybe they were listening in 😂

      I think the key to 2021 in Australia is to stay positive by accepting the truth, the facts regarding the pandemic. Disruption is the theme for this year. It is going to happen, and providing we act quickly, we can isolate, remediate and move on. Even with the vaccine in play, the disruption is still going to happen. However, our contact tracers are going to need substantial support and care. It’s interesting that, as Melbourne was finally settling back into a “normal” routine – an incident the same as ours here popped up last night, and they have responded swiftly.

      In other parts of the world, it is going to be much trickier. I certainly have an opinion on what needs to happen, but you know, I do have that strategic mindset.

      Apart from that, we need to keep punching a certain country in the nose. It would be nice for diplomacy to be in play, but that doesn’t seem to be an option right now.

      If you get the chance, track down the miniseries Grant:

      I actually have a first edition copy of his memoirs – my Aunty gave it to me when I was about 10. There is plenty of food for thought.

      I found all of beach cricket sets the other day, and my last bat is lying “in state” on the patio – it needs a good oil!!!

      Talk to you soon

      Like

    1. Thank you for your comments, Cindy. We often see the reports on the Californian fires. We have sent some of guys your way from time to time. They have been discussing today trying to bring in relief firefighters to give ours a break. Yes, the photos are always amazing. I can honestly say though, I know what it’s like right up against a fire and the intensity of that heat is amazing.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That is terrifying! Fire can be so unpredictable, and it’s never a welcome surprise to find it in your neighborhood. I’m glad you have such dedicated fire crews and a good system for tracking the fires and other threats. I hope their efforts will soon be eased by better weather.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your thoughts, Ceri. Yes, the change in weather did arrive courtesy of a cyclone and made an amazing difference to containing the fire. We are now enjoying very cool weather during what is normally a scorching time of the year.

      Liked by 1 person

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