Victoria burst into flames on Saturday. They had been through a long heatwave, and everyone was preparing for the worst, but what happened has redefined "worst". There are about 180 confirmed dead and the toll is now expected to reach 300. Several towns have effectively ceased to exist.
It is extremely sad and upsetting. We have many friends and family all over Victoria, and everyone we know is OK. I have no real comment to make except we give thanks for their safety, we grieve for the dead and injured and their families, and we hope somehow the rest of the fire season can be endured with no more loss of life.
I always try to leave a record in the blog of the major things that are happening, but far be it from me to think I have any original revelations about why this happened or how to avoid a repeat.
The Premier of Victoria has said "We need to examine every possible issue, every single fact, every single policy … so that lessons can be learned."..
On changes to Victoria's "fight-or-flight" policy, Mr Brumby told the Fairfax Radio Network: "It's served us well for 20 years or more — that is, if you decide to leave, leave early and if you decide to stay make sure you've got a fire plan.
"But there is no question that there were — you will talk to them there at Whittlesea — there is no question that there were people there who did everything right, put in place their fire plan and it wouldn't matter, their house was just incinerated."
Here is an article with some good points for discussion on bushfire policy.
And here is a quite harrowing account of one family's escape on foot.