Canberra Bushfires from the Watson Perspective.



It has become evident that in the Grand Canberra scheme of things, our story is mundane. Sure, we were very worried, but having spoken to a friend who watched the fire burn down houses at the other end of his street, and have his prayers answered as the wind changed, and another friend who was evacuated, and heard loud bangs, and saw sparks showering down off the roof of his car as he fled through the thick smoke, our story can only be seen as very average.


'Ordinary' Canberra has gone back to normal, as much as it can for the moment, with work carrying on as normal. The next big scare is this weekend however, and significant work is going into preparation. Huge resources are pouring in: I saw half a dozen fire engines from Queensland this morning. That is a journey of at least 18-20 hours each way; I'd guess the same distance as Paris to Rome. There are army fire engines, army trucks that have been converted to fire engines, and both civilian and military road graders.


An area as wide as a 3 lane highway has been cleared down to bare earth all around our side of Canberra, and the radio says that they are back-burning an area 1Km wide outside the city tonight, when the weather is calm. My guess is that this is intended to stop a major fire front, although the fire will easily jump in spots over that gap. It would give a chance to work behind that line of defence, and to jump hard on those spots as they start up.


Extra firefighting resources have been pouring in. There is a rural fire brigade station just up the road, and it has been the marshalling area for all the assistance that has been pouring in. So far as I can tell, there are 13 fire engines from Queensland, (a 22 hour drive: I asked a fireman!), an airport fire engine from Canberra, (although how you can fight a bush fire with a huge foam nozzle I don't know...), and at least half a dozen graders on low loaders from the Army. You have to be careful driving past them in the morning, because of low flying cricket balls from the impromptu cricket match!!

Fire engines getting ready at Drake Brockman rural fire station


Army graders getting ready on their low loaders at Drake Brockman rural fire station


After all this preparation, I only hope that it's all a big anticlimax, and that that hot and windy weather doesn't turn up: the disappointment is far better than any potential excitement!!


We'll see.


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