10 years in the blink of an eye

johnboy 18 January 2013 36

So as you are no doubt already thoroughly sick of hearing it’s been ten years today since the 2003 bushfires turned the sky black and rained fire on the city while our leaders dithered.

It seems everything that could possibly said has been said.

But if you’ve got a remembrance you’d like to add knock yourself out in the comments.

UPDATE 18/01/13 16:41: The Chief Minister’s speech at the commemoration service is now available.


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36 Responses to 10 years in the blink of an eye
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Tetranitrate Tetranitrate 11:27 pm 19 Jan 13

Thumper said :

Also never forget that as houses where being reduced to ashes and firies were running aroound being overwhelmed, Stanhope was fronting a press conference to tell everyone that nothing was happening and everything was under control.

Yep, that worked…

well…. he was chief minister for another 8 years afterwards, so yes, I guess it did.
I don’t know how, but it did.

dpm dpm 11:06 pm 19 Jan 13

farnarkler said :

…Johnboy is correct, this city is being a little bit precious about what really wasn’t much compared with the 2009 Black Saturday fires.

I didn’t know JB thought Canberra was ‘being a little bit precious’ by having a 10-year rememberance! I seem to miss all his subtleties!!

KB1971 KB1971 8:22 pm 19 Jan 13

Deckard said :

KB1971 said :

I forgot to add, its the reason firefighters backburn when a fire does start, to reduce the fuel load.This is all well and good but the Gov could be more proactive rather than reactive.

Yeah I agree it would be good but I reckon the cost and manpower to do it would be too much for a government and volunteer bush fire service to consider. It’s a very big country out there.

But it actually used to be done. For whatever reason it isn’t now, I would imagine the old national park motto of locking everything up would have a bit to do with it.

farnarkler farnarkler 6:46 pm 19 Jan 13

Thankfully I was living in London in 2003. Nothing much happened that year………only close to 70,000 deaths Europe-wide due to the July-August heatwave.

Johnboy is correct, this city is being a little bit precious about what really wasn’t much compared with the 2009 Black Saturday fires.

Deckard Deckard 6:14 pm 19 Jan 13

KB1971 said :

I forgot to add, its the reason firefighters backburn when a fire does start, to reduce the fuel load.This is all well and good but the Gov could be more proactive rather than reactive.

Yeah I agree it would be good but I reckon the cost and manpower to do it would be too much for a government and volunteer bush fire service to consider. It’s a very big country out there.

Thumper Thumper 5:48 pm 19 Jan 13

Also never forget that as houses where being reduced to ashes and firies were running aroound being overwhelmed, Stanhope was fronting a press conference to tell everyone that nothing was happening and everything was under control.

Yep, that worked…

Thumper Thumper 5:45 pm 19 Jan 13

I was going to write something ages ago but couldn’t be bothered.

However, never forget that Stanhope, now conveniently on Xmas Island, tried to railroad Coroner Doogan as soon as she started finding fault with the government of the time.

Frankly, I’m still astounded at how Stanhope managed to survive the whole thing….

KB1971 KB1971 12:58 pm 19 Jan 13

I forgot to add, its the reason firefighters backburn when a fire does start, to reduce the fuel load.This is all well and good but the Gov could be more proactive rather than reactive.

KB1971 KB1971 12:52 pm 19 Jan 13

Deckard said :

It’s not about whether hazard reduction works or not, I’m sure it does help a lot. But where do you start? Kosciuszko and Namadgi NP’s are massive. How many firies would you need to do a controlled burn of that size? It snows in the winter so no chance to do a burn then. It would have to be close to summer which then risks a burn of that size getting out of control.

Would you prefer them to bulldoze the lot and concrete it over? Or build some kind of gigantic wall and hope the fire doesn’t jump it?

I think it’s something we just have to live with. If you’re living in a high bushfire danger area surely you’d know the risks associated with that and plan accordingly. I think in 2003 people didn’t realise that Canberra suburbs could be a high risk area. I’m sure they do now and I just hope that they don’t forget it in 50 years time when it happens again – this time hopefully without a pine plantation on peoples front doorsteps.

Its not that hard you know. I grew up down at the Sapphire Coast and they used to systematically burn different areas on different years. You dont have to burn it all at once as as you say its too big a task. An area might not have to be burned for another 5 years.

The idea is to be able to break up a fire if it does lose control, it hits a bit that has already been burnt and slows down or stops so firefighters can keep up or people/animals can get to safer ground.

Its better doing slower controlled burns on bush that is used to it rather than let a firestorm go & burn the shit out of everything.

We also have plenty of time either side of Summer & Winter to do planned controlled burns.

Deckard Deckard 10:06 am 19 Jan 13

KB1971 said :

For years the Aboriginals burnt sections of bush to help them get food & probably for other reasons. This practice has stopped since the white man has come along (although I think they still do it out west).

I am surprised at your last question considering all three fires that flared up in 2003 were all some distance from Canberra but when the weather conditions prevailed, the fuel load combined with the hot and wind moved it into the edge of town at a rapid rate of knots.

Having said that I guess there is no ‘scientific’ evidence to back up the hazard reduction thing, it is a practice that has been used by people who don’t live in the city to try & prevent wildfires occurring.

I believe it is essential and as mentioned earlier, the 2001 fire stopped the 2003 fire in its tracks. Proof enough for me.

It’s not about whether hazard reduction works or not, I’m sure it does help a lot. But where do you start? Kosciuszko and Namadgi NP’s are massive. How many firies would you need to do a controlled burn of that size? It snows in the winter so no chance to do a burn then. It would have to be close to summer which then risks a burn of that size getting out of control.

Would you prefer them to bulldoze the lot and concrete it over? Or build some kind of gigantic wall and hope the fire doesn’t jump it?

I think it’s something we just have to live with. If you’re living in a high bushfire danger area surely you’d know the risks associated with that and plan accordingly. I think in 2003 people didn’t realise that Canberra suburbs could be a high risk area. I’m sure they do now and I just hope that they don’t forget it in 50 years time when it happens again – this time hopefully without a pine plantation on peoples front doorsteps.

KB1971 KB1971 8:10 am 19 Jan 13

Pork Hunt said :

KB1971 said :

Holden Caulfield said :

Canberra was also incredibly fortunate, I think, that there was the fire near Black Mountain the previous year. Had those pines around Scrivener Dam still been there then it’s not too difficult to imagine how much more damage the 2003 fires could have done.

Thoughts with those who lost their homes or loved ones.

.

I have always said this considering that the fire spotted into the Glenloch interchange anyway.

it was as plain as day where the fire the previous year had been because the 2003 fire was stopped int is tracks because of it.

& they still don’t do enough hazard reduction in Namadgi………

One day someone will explain to me exactly how “hazard reduction” in the Australian bush is supposed to work.
How is it decided where to hazard reduct when there are squillions of sq km of bushland.
The purpose of national parks is so that we can see the bush as mother nature created it. Hazard reduction is national parks seem to run against that philosophy.
Do wise old men stroke their beards and say “we’ll burn here cos’ the next fire will come from over there”?
I can see how burning near houses at the edge of town helps but what benefit does hazard recuction 50 k’s from south Tuggeranong bring?

For years the Aboriginals burnt sections of bush to help them get food & probably for other reasons. This practice has stopped since the white man has come along (although I think they still do it out west).

I am surprised at your last question considering all three fires that flared up in 2003 were all some distance from Canberra but when the weather conditions prevailed, the fuel load combined with the hot and wind moved it into the edge of town at a rapid rate of knots.

Having said that I guess there is no ‘scientific’ evidence to back up the hazard reduction thing, it is a practice that has been used by people who don’t live in the city to try & prevent wildfires occurring.

I believe it is essential and as mentioned earlier, the 2001 fire stopped the 2003 fire in its tracks. Proof enough for me.

GladMyNameIsFrank GladMyNameIsFrank 11:27 pm 18 Jan 13

switch said :

Seems like no matter what we do in this country, every 50 years or so there’s a catastrophic bushfire.

Yes, and what went right and wrong ten years ago, the RFS is doing it still. Sorry, but that’s the truth. And it will be the same in another ten years. NSWRFS is the same. Full stop.

switch switch 5:30 pm 18 Jan 13

Seems like no matter what we do in this country, every 50 years or so there’s a catastrophic bushfire.

Pork Hunt Pork Hunt 5:13 pm 18 Jan 13

KB1971 said :

Holden Caulfield said :

Canberra was also incredibly fortunate, I think, that there was the fire near Black Mountain the previous year. Had those pines around Scrivener Dam still been there then it’s not too difficult to imagine how much more damage the 2003 fires could have done.

Thoughts with those who lost their homes or loved ones.

.

I have always said this considering that the fire spotted into the Glenloch interchange anyway.

it was as plain as day where the fire the previous year had been because the 2003 fire was stopped int is tracks because of it.

& they still don’t do enough hazard reduction in Namadgi………

One day someone will explain to me exactly how “hazard reduction” in the Australian bush is supposed to work.
How is it decided where to hazard reduct when there are squillions of sq km of bushland.
The purpose of national parks is so that we can see the bush as mother nature created it. Hazard reduction is national parks seem to run against that philosophy.
Do wise old men stroke their beards and say “we’ll burn here cos’ the next fire will come from over there”?
I can see how burning near houses at the edge of town helps but what benefit does hazard recuction 50 k’s from south Tuggeranong bring?

Spykler Spykler 5:04 pm 18 Jan 13

Holden Caulfield said :

Canberra was also incredibly fortunate, I think, that there was the fire near Black Mountain the previous year. Had those pines around Scrivener Dam still been there then it’s not too difficult to imagine how much more damage the 2003 fires could have done.

This topic has come up more in the last 10 years than the actual 2003 fires. I was in Gungahlin in 2001 watching what seemed like a small grass fire slowly morph into what seemed like an enormous blaze, from that distance it did appear like Black Mountain was burning. Without the clearing effort of that blaze, the big one in 2003 may well have taken hold on Black Mountain , and by all accounts that probably would have been game over for the inner north/city.
I recall a lot of hand-wringing at the loss of revenue from the pine forest that was destroyed in 2001, but it now appears that would have been a drop in the bucket if the 03′ fire had taken hold in the north.

rosscoact rosscoact 4:19 pm 18 Jan 13

Lillypilly said :

Oh, and it creeps me the hell out that pretty much the exact same weather conditions (bloody hot and super high winds) are happening exactly 10 years to the day.

Or maybe that’s just me…

The vision on TV this morning from a town in Gippsland creeped me out. It was what it looked like in the morning here.

Lillypilly Lillypilly 2:46 pm 18 Jan 13

Oh, and it creeps me the hell out that pretty much the exact same weather conditions (bloody hot and super high winds) are happening exactly 10 years to the day.

Or maybe that’s just me…

Lillypilly Lillypilly 2:41 pm 18 Jan 13

I was living with my parents in Chapman at the time. We weren’t thinking anything was very wrong until our neighbour belted on the doors saying he was getting on our roof and blocking our gutters. (my father was interstate and it was just mum and me)

Hoses that barely spat out water were useless and we had to use buckets mostly to start putting out spot fires around the house. Neighbours were leaving and I told mum that I’d be damned before I let a fire take the home our family grew up in.

I have four very distinct memories of that time:
1) Our usually neurotic cat was calm as a cucumber and chilling on the lounge the whole time we were running about trying to put out fires and gather personal belongings
2) With no power a ice cream desert just fell apart in the freezer and I spent an hour cleaning up that stupid sticky chocolately crap.
3) The owners of the Chapman IGA at that time had no qualms in giving out as much free food and bottled water as anyone needed and was really a pillar of strength during those following days.
4) One or two days later I took some neighbourhood kids between about 6 and 10, to Hoyts in Woden. I remember the movie was some episode in the spy kids franchise. I will never forget the slightly haunted looks in those kids eyes as they talked about how their house/their neighbours houses burnt in front of them.

johnboy johnboy 1:54 pm 18 Jan 13
mossrocket mossrocket 12:20 pm 18 Jan 13

mossrocket said :

A friend and I worked for Canberra Connect during that day 10 years ago. But as it was the weekend we were hanging out playing the Xbox at his place in Calwell.

We were left in the horrid position of not being able to update Canberra Connect with the correct, timely, important, information. Instead we had to listen to 666 and quickly update the website to match…

I forgot to add – 666 were telling everyone to look at Canberra Connect for up to date information 🙂

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