The Canberra Fires — An Example Of Environmentalist Folly
"A Letter From Canberra" The Gold Coast Bulletin January 23, 2003

JUST a quick note to let you know we are currently all OK. We are on another day of high warning and preparing for 'Nightmare weather conditions today'.

The fires are now expected to turn and head towards our property just north of Canberra. We will have no fire protection this time around as all firefighting appliances will be protecting the city and local forests.

We have a home in the suburb of Duffy which has been devastated beyond belief. Houses everywhere have been burnt to the ground.

The rate of fire spread and path of fire travel was unbelievable. We were in the suburb on our way to check our properties when a series of firestorms hit the suburb and balls of fire raced through the air setting fire to everything in its path.

We had been given permission to go through a police road block. We soon wished we had not come this way. The police had no idea how much worse the conditions had got over the next hill. We had huge fires burning on both sides of the street, winds roaring across the road blowing burning embers under the car.

I have had a little experience driving in these conditions as a firefighter, but nothing like this.

Jan was terrified and began screaming for me to get her out of here.

"Forget the houses I just want to see my boys again. Please get me out of here," she cried.

I had already decided we were leaving but we could not turn back as stopping a vehicle in these conditions would have been worse than continuing.

We kept going. It was about 3.30 pm, black as night and visibility was a metre or so in front of the car.

Massive flames were roaring through the tree tops on the forest edge of the suburb. On our right the church we all went to for some years was burning to the ground, the high school engulfed, the police services centre and houses were on fire.

We followed a volunteer fire truck that was unsure what to do— they stopped three times then slowly continued into the fire area. As we passed I looked to see four very worried and confused firefighters in the cabin.

We continued on to the south side of Weston Creek where the fire was almost non-existent.

We reached the main road out of Weston Creek only to find traffic banked up and stationary as far as you could see. It was a mass exodus, panic-stricken residents trying to get to safety out of the smoke and flames.

Red tail lights were visible through the thick blanket of black smoke. Again we found it impossible to believe it was only 4.12 pm and pitch black. You could see fire out on the hills to our right and we knew the fire was approaching on our left.

The trip out to Woden took about 35 minutes to travel about 7km. We made our way to the city wondering what might be happening to our houses and the people that remained. We were hoping that the tenants had managed to get their treasured possessions out and carried out a few fire preparation measures.

Nobody was allowed back into the until the following evening. We had been able to contact a neighbour who stayed with his home and was able to tell us that our house was OK.

Many houses were still burning. The following morning I received a call from a mate— a firefighter in the area — who had done a check and ensured me our house was OK.

Relief, but still such a shock that so many people were now homeless.

At breakfast on Saturday morning we were aware that some distant rural areas may be in danger.

Lunchtime the first houses were alight in our street. By teatime 400 homes had gone.

A check of the area on Sunday was mind deadening — the sorrow, the devastation, houses everywhere randomly chosen for destruction, people sobbing and hugging while trying to come to grips with what had happened and unable to comprehend how this could have been allowed to occur.

One thing that was so obvious was that this could have been avoided if the radical Green movement had not brainwashed so many people into believing we need wilderness areas, National Parks and forests closed to grazing, back burning and motor vehicle access.

They tried to bulldoze the forest opposite these houses a couple of days before the fires but were refused due to complaints and legal threats by the Green movement.

The rest is history now. The forest fires create the windstorms that produce and fan the firestorms. It is so basic but so hard to get through to the 'brain dead, educated' Greenies.

Hopefully, we will become more sensibly green in our future years.

Scientists will come forward with all sorts of excuses to cover up the stupidity of the Commonwealth Government who planted large forests so close to suburbia.

If the forests were not responsible for this, then why did the approaching fire come to a stop at an area of the forest that was burnt out last year preventing the fire from heading into Canberra City via Black Mountain.

Sorry that this started out as a short note and ended up a sledge at the decision makers in this country, but when you witness the devastation first-hand and see the suffering burnt into the minds of so many people for ever, it is hard not to say something.

Glad I got that off my chest.

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