At 4 am this morning when one of our smoke detectors started chirping I had to remind myself that I should be grateful that it was only a nuisance alarm.
After doing all the research for Burning Lies I watch fire events like the one currently affecting Hobart with a new understanding. The agonising decision to evacuate or to stay and defend must be hard enough to make in the clear light of day let alone when a fiery freight train is bearing down on you and your family.
I find myself in tears watching interviews with people who shrug their shoulders and say ‘we’ll see what’s left in a day or two’ as they shepherd their children and animals into their cars and drive away. How do you make a decision about the small number of things you’re taking with you? How do you walk away from something you may have built brick by brick over many years, not knowing if it will survive?
The Australian climate is unforgiving and nowhere, not even the tropical north, is immune from the devastation of fire. Many of the Australian native trees regenerate through fire. New beginnings of fresh growth always make me smile. In their own way people are just as resilient, but humans are not hard wired for this like a Banksia tree. It takes a huge effort to rebuild after such complete loss.
I have only admiration for those who man the pumps and trucks in the many volunteer fire fighting groups around the country. Without them so much more would be lost, so many more lives torn apart.
Dig deep when the rural firies come knocking on your door for donations or the CFA offers you a raffle ticket. It will make a difference to someone somewhere in this parched land.
And if you’re able bodied and looking for a community service maybe this is something you can spare the time to do. Plenty of women fight fires although at 3% there’s room for more.