Australia — A history of fatal bushfires in Australia, and quotes from today’s devastation:
Feb 7, 2009 – Sixty-five people confirmed killed and fears of more fatalities in bushfires across rural Victoria.
Dec 30, 2007 – Blaze kills three truckers on a highway near Coolgardie in WA.
Jan 2006 – Three deaths and multi-million-dollar stock and property losses in 10 days of bushfires in Victoria.
Jan 11, 2005 – Nine lives lost in South Australian Eyre Peninsula bushfires.
Dec 2003 – Two women die as they try to outrun flames near Tenterden, 350km south-east of Perth.
Jan 18, 2003 – Four people die and almost 500 homes are razed in a massive firestorm in Canberra.
Dec 2002 – Two men die and more than 20 homes lost in bushfires that spread from rural NSW to ring Sydney.
Dec 2, 1998 – Bushfire claims five firefighters at Linton in Victoria.
Dec 2, 1997 – Two die in bushfires at Lithgow in NSW.
Jan 21, 1997 – Three people die and 33 homes destroyed in bushfires that ravaged the Dandenong Ranges on Melbourne’s eastern outskirts.
Jan 1994 – Four die, 200 properties lost, several hundred people injured as bushfires from rural NSW descend on Sydney.
Feb 16, 1983 – Ash Wednesday bushfires in Victoria and South Australia claim 76 people.
Jan 8, 1969 – 23 people die in grassfires in Victoria across townships including Lara, Daylesford, Dulgana, Yea, Darraweit, Kangaroo Flat and Korongvale.
Feb 7, 1967 – Bushfires kill 59 people in southern Tasmania.
Jan 13, 1939 – Black Friday bushfires in Victoria kill 71 people and destroy several towns across 20,000 square kilometres of burnt land.
What they said about the lethal Victorian bushfires:
This is an appalling loss of life, an appalling loss of property. This is a terrible and devastating tragedy. – Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
It was climatically a worse day than Ash Wednesday or Black Friday, much worse than those two. It’s just a day, I hope in my lifetime, is never repeated.– Premier John Brumby.
This is an absolute tragedy for the state and we believe the figure may even get worse. The community needs to be prepared for worse news to come. – Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Kieran Walshe.
The fire weather … was extreme and off the scale. – CFA deputy chief fire officer John Haynes.
We’ve still got a massive amount of work to do to get these fires under control. These are big fires and they’re going to take days and days to get under control.– CFA deputy chief fire officer Greg Esnouf.
Someone up there was looking out for me. – Great-grandmother Olga Tuckerman, 83, thanks God that her home of 40 years survived despite neighbours losing their houses when a blaze swept through Bendigo’s western suburbs.
I said a couple of prayers yesterday – please keep my home Lord, but He wanted to take mine for some reason, but I will rebuild. – Jean Perkins, 72, whose home of 45 years, Perkys Palace, next door to Mrs Tuckerman, was lost.
All those who have made it into town will be fine. The others will be sheltering and working on their fire plans, God help them. – Kinglake resident Peter Mitchell.
This horrific wind came through and just took the roof off our house, our shed. I’ve never seen anything like it, it was horrific. – Kinglake resident Jim Scott.
I did fear for my life at one point, there was a horrible moment of indecision where I just thought … I’m going to stay here and beat this flame back, and where do I hide? … which building do I hide in? It was horrible. – Kinglake area resident Sue Aldred.
It’s just absolute devastation and people have seen things today that have been absolutely horrific. – Strathewen resident Georgina.
We have had a shower of rain – it’s raining black soot. Soot everywhere.– Traralgon resident Lindy McPhee.
I saw trees explode in front of me. It was quite frightening. It was a horrible thing to see. – Sally Tregea at Whittlesea.
I’ve been in Ash Wednesday but this is probably worse. – Narbethong resident Raylene Kincaide.
Marysville I understand, there’s only one building left in the town.– Federal Liberal member for McEwen, Fran Bailey, on the entire town of Marysville being destroyed.
There are going to be whole towns that need rebuilding and there are people who are going to need emergency income support. – Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
We do live in a very beautiful country but there is a terrible nature to its beauty when we see these horrific fires. – Federal Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull.
Global warming is predicted to make this sort of event happen 25 per cent, 50 per cent more. It’s a sobering reminder of the need for this nation and the whole world to act and put at a priority our need to tackle climate change.– Greens leader Senator Bob Brown.