What can you do when the tanker's on fire?
March 28, 2013 5:55 PM   Subscribe

Footage taken by Channel Nine cameraman Richard Moran during a ride through the fires with A.C.T. Fire Brigade District Officer Darrell Thornthwaite and the crew of Bravo 3. A 45 minute video that shows the careful preparation and the heroic, futile response of one fire brigade to an Australian brushfire of immense magnitude bearing down on a suburban community. Literally hell on earth.
posted by Slap*Happy (18 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
This is really a hell of a thing. About halfway in, they're driving towards the fire front, past all the people fleeing for their lives. The flames seem like they reach hundreds of feet into the sky and smoke towers above. They pass house after house fully involved. It looks for all the world like Mordor.

And then some dude comes running down his driveway…
posted by ob1quixote at 7:16 PM on March 28, 2013

Made me think about the Ash Wednesday fires. And a few years back in SA. Literally hell on earth.
posted by nostrada at 7:32 PM on March 28, 2013

Holy fucking shit.
posted by maxwelton at 7:48 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Amazing footage that you just can't stop watching. One, just one, good thing I noticed is that the woman we see hosing down her house at the corner of Eucumbene and Warragamba at the beginning, well her house appears to have been spared when dozens of her neighbours are seen burning later on. Heartbreaking though to see all those people having to leave animals behind, like the couple whose dog wouldn't leave the back yard.
posted by Flashman at 8:54 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh. My. God.

I have been in house fires. They're scary, but there's this awesome thing where if they get too bad, you can go back outside and the rest of the world is not on fire. These guys (and gals) don't have that luxury. My helmet's off to them, I'm not sure I could make myself get within a mile of that.

(Also, please watch the video... and then please go donate to your local fire service, especially if you live in a dry area. We are all, professional and volunteer alike, strapped for funding right now.)
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:56 PM on March 28, 2013 [6 favorites]

That is a seriously compelling video. I can't imagine being with the Bravo 3 crew when the engine died, abosolutely no idea.
posted by N-stoff at 10:22 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

So like...demons and shit? I mean, I knew the wildlife of Australia was pretty nasty, but, wow!
posted by GoingToShopping at 10:57 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

Understatement of the century at about 16:15 - "Ooo it's hot out here!".
posted by Jimbob at 11:19 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]

What a nightmare!
The flames and sparks are flying ... they
stop the truck and pickup some guy holding on
to an old tin cook pot...get in mate!
posted by quazichimp at 12:29 AM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

This video highlights how easy it is to get caught in wild bushfires and staying to protect property is incredibly dangerous/foolish. It's amazing that only four people lost their lives that day/night. Check the wiki page for an interesting graphic of the area burnt. I remember driving down Warragamba afterwards and the strange random houses that remained untouched by fire (though I assume damaged by smoke).
posted by bigZLiLk at 12:30 AM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

I couldn't tear my eyes away. I never watch long YouTube video, but I watched this in the entirety. Amazing only 4 people were kills. The woman that was worried about her pets broke my heart. I don't know if I could leave. Makes me think I need a pet "go bag" even though I'm not in fire territory.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 4:18 AM on March 29, 2013

Also, wow, the attempt to hold the line and how quickly it became clear they wouldn't be able to.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 4:20 AM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

One of the most dramatic moments in the film happens before the fire - right around the 9:00 mark. The seasoned, super-competent veteran officer realizes just how bad it's going to be, and all of his bravado and confidence is suddenly replaced by a sick worry.

He still does his damndest to hold the line. It's too fast, too intense, too immense for any human agency to cope with... but the firefighters fight the fire anyway.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:45 AM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

And then some dude comes running down his driveway…

My thinking is that basically everything in Australia is already trying to kill you and everyone just lives with that, so when the authorities roll by in heavy protective gear, lights flashing and sirens screaming and yelling at you that it's time to go... my good fellow, at that point it is time to go.
posted by mhoye at 4:55 AM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

I knew I recognised Moran's name from somewhere.

Not only did he in a Gold Walkley for this, he was in Haiti after the earthquakes a few years ago he helped rescue a girl, and then apologised to his CoS for putting his camera down to help.
posted by Mezentian at 4:59 AM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm thinking they should just put this on TV one Saturday night in October, every year. Don't add any commentary or editing, just put it up there, to give some complacent people - the still all-to-common sort who think bushfires are someone elses problem that can be solved with a bit of prescribed burning - a dose of reality.
posted by Jimbob at 6:12 AM on March 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

We were in this. Watching a movie at the Hyperdome. Blue skies when we went in, Mordor when we came out. You'd think they'd have turned on the lights at some stage and said 'If you're in Weston Creek, you might want to go home."

Raced home and packed everything up. We were a fair way from the front, but knew things could get hairy when the ridge at Isaacs got lit up by embers.

Blocked the downpipes with tennis balls and rags, and started filling the gutters with water. Old Mate from across the road wandered over.

"You shouldn't be doing that, you know."
"Water restrictions."
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:18 PM on March 29, 2013 [5 favorites]

I was northside when this happened. I could tell how bad things were from the frequency of waterbombing helicopter overflights from the nearby lake. There was ash and burnt leaves and twigs falling all over the place. The sky to the south was just a wall of darkness in the middle of the afternoon. The smoke didn't clear for a couple of weeks and the whole city had a yellowish brown cast. The smoke from the fire set off fire alarms in New Zealand.

My place was never at risk but I spent a fair bit of time on the roof at Mum's place getting things prepared.

I'm still amazed that only four people died.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 7:26 PM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

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