Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

10.2.09

In one of the quickest decisions it has ever made, the State government has announced a royal commission into the fires; ahead of strident calls that were very obviously coming. The government will not want to look like it is dragging its heels. It will be looking for answers. Some it may not like.

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Things are different now. There are vastly more people in what is virtual suburbia in the bush. Kinglake is almost an outer suburb; 3000 people living in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range, already dry and subject to roaring north-westerlies that sweep the continent. It was vulnerable. And eucalypts don't burn slowly; they explode. As do gas bottles. It's like having grenades lining your driveway and a bomb in your house.

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You need fire breaks and wide road verges. I've driven through parts of New South Wales where road verges are cleared to a length equivalent to or greater than the height of the roadside trees. Those trees that fell on roads on Saturday night and Sunday morning were the gates of hell slamming shut on humanity. People were locked in and nature threw away the keys.

Having said that, it is perfectly understandable that some wish to live in pristine bushland. It is their right. Other answers may be needed. I don't know. Compulsory bomb shelter-like bunkers?

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Over at the ABC they're already blaming global warming. Fine. Go ahead and blame global warming. However, one degree less than 46 wasn't going to stop that firestorm. But if we've got global warming we need counteracting infrastructure to protect life in the new and changed circumstances: and now. You can't have it both ways. The place is an unlit incinerator but they won't build dams or allow clearing. This same State government has previously banned the collection of firewood in some areas - i.e., dead wood on the ground cannot be picked up - and outlawed farmers from removing dead trunks without a permit. Insane.

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I drove through Kinglake with Tracy and the boys late last month, reaching it via that incredible route up through St Andrews. The road winds and snakes back on itself, taking corners you would have thought impossible and just about throwing you into the scenery if you're not careful. Speed is limited at a couple of points to 15 km/h. You pass the boles of giant trees on your right and the tops of others on your left. It's like taking a plane ride without leaving the ground. It came to me again when I thought of people trying to outrun the firestorm raging across at 100 km/h and more. No wonder there are still so many missing, including at least one entire family.

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Stories emerge. Some terrible; some inspiring. A 12 year-old boy took up his dog and his playstation and drove his father's four wheel drive to safety. Gary Hughes of The Australian should be dead but isn't. A darker story from one small town reports that it was left without firefighter assistance when the town's units went to fight fires elsewhere; when the flames moved in, the last remaining emergency services worker - the town's policeman - warned everyone to get out ... and then fled. Is that how it works?

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Last month the SES and CFA were collecting money at street corners. They are volunteer organisations. This is the one of the most firestorm-prone areas on Earth and we don't have a paid force?

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Finally, take a look at this picture of a volunteer fireman offering a drink to a firestorm survivor.

3 comments:

kapil7181 said...

Another method of cooking where vitamin loss is the minimum is steaming. Steamed food also gets cooked quickly, does not involve loss of vitamins to water drainage and is generally not overcooked, especially when compared to boiled food. As a result, it has been found that vegetables lose less than 50% of the nutrition when they are steamed as compared to when they are boiled.
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kapil kumar
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Cooking - Cooking

Lindie said...

That picture of the koala is going around the world. My heart aches for you all. Everyone in the area is going to be affected. Everyone will know someone or be related to someone with a story or a loss.

kitchen hand said...

Thank you for your kind thoughts, Lindie.