Report on the Melbourne (Australia) Fires

australian-firefighters-t-001You may know of Rowland Ward, a the minister of Knox Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia. He is a scholar of Australian church history and of the history of worship. He writes:

Obviously you’ve heard something of the serious bushfires that struck in the state of Victoria on Saturday which was the hottest day here since records began in 1855. (Melbourne 46.4 C ~ 115.5F, Victoria (47+ C ~ 117.5 F). We had virtually no rain in January and several very hot days a week or so back. With such dry conditions and very low humidity and winds over 100km/60miles per hour the conditions were extremely dangerous. When the fires began – some apparently were deliberately lit – they spread extremely rapidly and many people left it too late to escape. They were caught in their cars trying to get out.

Radiant heat from these fires can be lethal at 4 times the height of the flames say 120metres/390feet if the flames are 30metres. Victoria is, along with California and parts of southern France, the worst place for bushfires in the world.

The worst area affected is Kinglake less than a hour’s drive from where I live in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. Of the 750 or more homes destroyed 550 are in this area which had a population of about 3000. Currently the death toll is over 180 and it will rise. We had bad fires and many deaths in 1983 (47 on Ash Wednesday in Victoria plus 28 in South Australia) and 1939 (71 on Black Friday) among others but this is the worst ever death toll. Some smaller places have been effectively wiped out – Marysville, for example, where there was a Christian conference centre. Another affected area is Dixons Creek where the Reformed Presbyterian Church has a camp site. It is not known if it has been burnt.

One is very appreciative of the army of volunteer and professional fire fighters and support people dealing with still about 30 fires. We appreciate the common grace of God in this. Yesterday was much cooler, but many fires are still not under control.

Several of our Melbourne people are not far from fires but none have been affected directly.

Let’s remember to pray for those who are suffering and to give thanks for those who’ve been delivered.

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