"Acts of bastardry" are still going around Sydney.

December 30, 2001 6:38 PM   Subscribe

"Acts of bastardry" are still going around Sydney.
Bad conditions help along the Christmas bushfires started by lightning and mad, wicked behaviour. (I certainly know what it's like.) But why did the fires spread so quickly? Didn't something like this happen in 1997? Is it very dry in southern Australia, or is it El Nino?!
posted by rschram (11 comments total)
At the moment it is very hot (35 - 40 Degrees Celsuis which is around the 100 Degree mark F), which when combined with strong, dry, hot westerly winds that come from the interior of the country, makes just about the worst possible scenario for bush fires on the eastern seaboard.

Another problem is the fact that controlled burns during the winter and early spring are no longer allowed (environmental concerns) which means that there is a much greater amount of dry scrub to fuel any fires that start, however they start.
posted by jordanbrock at 7:41 PM on December 30, 2001

Dry, virtually no rain, lots of flammable material, repeat firebugs... you do the math. bushfires in summer are pretty much expected down here... which is why we're 'experts' in the field.

Then, just as it's undercontrol, 5 more fires are deliberately lit... wonderful, what people do, isn't it?
posted by cheaily at 7:42 PM on December 30, 2001

You know, instead of fighting the fire, I think the Australians should sit down and try to understand it. If only they could hold their hand out, they could live with the fire and not have to use violence against it. There should be room in Australia for both humans and for fire.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:46 PM on December 30, 2001

No! We cannot just submit to these fires! Australia must send a strong message that such behavior is unacceptable. This is why I support a campaign to begin bombing the entire area until all the fires have been eradicated.
posted by moss at 11:37 PM on December 30, 2001

I lived in Bozeman, MT when large swaths of Yellowstone burned about ten years ago. Having returned many summers since, I’ve witnessed the burns evolve into beautiful areas rich in native flora and fauna. Granted, I have never visited and know little about Australia, however, didn’t Aboriginal Australians use fire to promote plant growth and drive game?
posted by rotifer at 11:50 PM on December 30, 2001

But if we begin bombing the entire area, hoping to destroy the evil fires, we'll end up killing thousands of innocent fires that help the ecology grow. Won't some one think of the innocent fires!
posted by Grum at 12:10 AM on December 31, 2001

You're right rotifer, our bush depends on annual fires for germination. It's these scumbags who come out annually we don't need. They should be shot on site.
posted by spinifex at 1:53 AM on December 31, 2001

REUTERS: "The Black Christmas' fires, the majority lit by arsonists, have destroyed 150 homes, devastated about 250,000 hectares (625,000 acres) of bush, and killed thousands of sheep...A number of Australian native plants need fire to regenerate, but tens of thousands of native animals are feared to have perished in Sydney's bushfires."

Some MetaFilterians [above] should heed Catullus (c84-54c BCE): "Nam risu inepto res ineptior nulla est." (For there is nothing sillier than a silly laugh.)
posted by Carol Anne at 7:01 AM on December 31, 2001

fire is natural. let it happen.
u live in the bush (outback) then expect fire.
posted by Burgatron at 1:55 PM on December 31, 2001

It's been months since I last talked with anyone Down Under, but I knew the drought had been very bad there, worse by the sound of it than Summer 2000 was where I live. So I won't crack wise about this; hope it gets better, and may the arsonists soon take their rightful place in hell.
posted by StOne at 9:33 PM on December 31, 2001

First, a thanks to Carol Anne for her intelligent and lucid comments.

Secondly, I live in South Australia. Here we are experiencing the coldest summer since 1969. It's raining as I write.

New South Wales is on the East coast of Australia. The fires are occuring there.

"u live in the bush (outback) then expect fire."

The outback is in fact a thousand miles away from Sydney and the surrounding areas that have been burnt.

Fire does regenerate some kinds of bushland. Other types are destroyed, along with the native animals that depend on them. Not all areas in Australia contain the kinds of bushland that need fire to regenerate (tropical and subtropical areas, for example)

There are types of Australian flora that require the heat of a fire to help crack open their seed pods and thus regenerate. Other kinds of flora survive fires.

However there is a real difference between a controlled burn and one which is uncontrolled. Controlled burns are frequently performed by Rural Fire Services and Parks and Wildlife officers at times of the year when it is safe to do so and in the right kinds of weather conditions. When the Aborigines used burn backs to help regenerate the bush and local food sources they were in small tribal groups and in terrain where the fires burnt out safely.

The urban rural interface is where these fires are occuring. They plant and regenerate their own seeds for their gardens (by boiling them, usually) or buy them from plant nurseries. We don't need fires to help people's back yards to regenerate. We don't need to burn their houses, endanger their lives, and/or the lives of our native animals and pets to do so.

As I write the fire is seven miles away from downtown Sydney. All week, the city of Sydney has been affected by the smoke from the fires.

Some of these fires may indeed have been caused by lightning occuring in single fronts. Unfortunately it seems as if the majority of these fires have been the work of arsonists, hence they have multiple fronts and are extremely difficult and dangerous for people living in these areas and for the fire fighters who are trying to contain them.
posted by lucien at 2:42 AM on January 1, 2002

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