Keri ArthurKeri ArthurKeri ArthurKeri Arthur

our worst natural disaster ever...

what do you get when you mix a week of extreme summer temperatures followed by a day of 47 c (117 f), winds of 100km an hour (62 mph) and a State tinder dry from 12 years of drought? You get a State ready to explode. And on Saturday, that’s just what happened here in Victoria.

And I tell you, it was scary.

The biggest fire started not very far away from us in Kilmore East. If the wind had of been blowing in the opposite direction, we might well have been one of the statistics. It wasn’t, and we were lucky. We stood on our front veranda instead and watched the columns of thick smoke, saw the speed at which it moved, watched the water bombers moving between the local dams and the fires, and heard all the sirens. And we hoped like hell that the fires stayed away from the many pretty little towns that were scattered in and around those hills.

It didn’t.

Instead, it destroyed thousands and thousands of hectares, has entirely wiped out two towns, partially destroyed many others, burned too many homes down and snatched so many lives. It’s just devastating. I can’t watch the news without crying. The official death toll is 126, but there’s so many places they can’t get into because it’s just too dangerous and they’re saying the number will be much higher by the time all this is over. There’s over 750 homes destroyed and, Victoria wide, there’s over 330 000 hectares burned so far. That’s over 815 447 acres, or two and a bit times the size of England.The worst of it is, there’s still 31 fires raging, including the one that started near us, and the wind has again picked up. At least ten towns are currently on high alert.

And the worst of it is, they reckon a good percentage of these fires were deliberately lit. I’ve never believed in the death penalty, but if they ever catch the bastards who did this, they don’t deserve jail. They deserve death. As our prime minister said, they’re mass murderers, not arsonists.

I know times are tough and money is tight, but if you have any spare change laying about, then please consider donating to the Australian Red Cross Bushfire appeal.  So many people have had their lives affected by, or destroyed by, these fires, and the best way we can help right now is by donating money to the people on the ground helping them cope. And all money donated goes directly to the people in need–Red Cross aren’t taking a cent.

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Keri’s books are also available at booksellers in Australia, the UK, and Canada.