Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bad fire day

There's a bad fire situation around Sydney today.

It's the worst fire weather - about 34C, only 10% humidity and fierce winds gusting up to 90kph.

The Rural Fire Service website has just crashed but a few minutes ago it said:

Major Fire Updates
ABC radio, the emergency broadcaster, normally has updates every fifteen minutes in fire conditions but today is so serious that the Sydney station I'm listening to has replaced normal programmes with non-stop fire information .

People in areas of the Blue Mountains and Southern Highlands are being told to evacuate immediately or to take shelter as the fires are on them and out of control.

Several schools have been evacuated. Newcastle Airport is closed and evacuated, roads are closed all over the place. Water bombing aircraft have been grounded because the winds are too dangerous. Some houses have been lost, many others under threat, but so far, thankfully, there are no reports of injuries.

RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons has said: "if we get through with less than 100 homes destroyed today, we have been lucky".

In the residential suburb of Baulkham Hills and the city of Wollongong, people are reporting embers falling in their gardens. The high winds are blowing embers way ahead of the fires, starting spot fires.

A man has just called in saying the fire is across the road from his house in Yellow Rock, there are no firefighters there and there are about forty neighbours gathering together to try to get to safety. There's no way out so they're planning to go to a previously burnt area, which seems to be their safest option.

A woman from Yellow Rock says they have no water or electricity and they're trying to put out spot fires with wet towels.

The RFS are saying it could well be our worst fire day since 2002.

With all this going on - firefighters risking their lives, people trapped by fire, houses being destroyed - someone has just phoned in to say he's just reported to police an absolute mindless moron who threw a cigarette but from his car.

And there are regular reports of drivers not pulling out of the way of fire trucks which are desperately trying to get to help people.

As usual, while most people do the right thing and there are heroics with ordinary people doing extraordinary things, there's a minority of self-interested, mindless, selfish morons.

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