Monday, February 9, 2009

significant figures

07/02 - 09/02/2009
108+ lives lost*
20 patients in Alfred Hospital burns unit (10 are listed as critical)
750+ homes lost
330,000 hectares burnt
15 Red Cross relief centres
48 degrees C max. temp. in suburban Melbourne
31 fires continue to burn...

It seems so absurd that people battle to save their homes with buckets in the face of a fire-storm rocketing up a hillside. A garden hose? It must of course be absolutely devastating to lose a home. But would there have been so many deaths had people surrendered their houses? Was it worth it?

Telling for me were the words of a woman interviewed last night... she had a fire plan in place. Her intention was to stay and defend her home. But in the face of the inferno that appeared on the horizon she rapidly changed her mind and fled. How can it be worth the risk?

As unpopular as I might be for saying so, what fire plan is worth a life? If a plan is anything other than "leave as soon as there is a risk of being trapped and burnt" no amount of property damage is worthy of concern. Its not a battle for ideals, or human rights. Its not a struggle in the face of oppression. Its not even a sport or a challenge. Its an inferno. Its hard enough to fight with tankers and aerial water-bombardment. Set your sprinklers going, fill your gutters, hang wet blankets on the windows... and then get the hell out of there.

Of course I can't understand. I'm a suburban resident watching it on the news. The smoke haze is changing the colour of the sky but no flames are visible from here. Its easy for me to say "its not worth it".... Well its not. Its plainly not worth it.

* over 200 lives lost as of 23/02 and still counting...

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