The sky was a display of fire on the 7th of February here in the Gippsland region. As bushfires roared across the state, just a mere 25km out of town a fire started in the town of Churchill. Smoke soon filled the air as the fire spread, and within minutes it was already crossing over closer to Traralgon.
Conditions were the hottest we have ever seen during the month of Feb, the winds were hitting over 50km/h and when you are in a rural community, fire fighting authorities are always going to be sparse.
The fire reached the communities of Traralgon South, Calignee and Koornalla, burning everything in it’s path. Houses, cars, livestock, and of course, people.
The town was completely black by 5pm, it was as if it was raining pure mud from the sky. Driving was becoming hazerdous as people began to flee their homes, taking what they could.
Support centres have been setup across the town, with the Red Cross giving families information when it comes in.
The fires are suspected to be an act of arson, and already 2 suspects have been apprehended for this tragic disaster. Details are yet to be released to the public.
The official death toll is constantly rising, and it seems that everyone has a connection to someone who perished in the fire.
Chris Zaffina is one of the many people who left their homes behind in Koornalla and retreated to safe ground in Traralgon. Taking only what he could fit into his car, he along with his family are one of the lucky ones in their area who’s house actually survived the blaze.
Here is an interview I conducted with him tonight about his feelings on the ordeal.
Another family who I know rather well have lost their home and all of their posessions. They have been left with nothing but the clothes on their back, and the money in their bank accounts. It’s times like these that the community pulls together and really shines. A rental property has been offered to them free of charge, a local electrical store has provided them with a brand new Fridge, Washing Machine and Lounge Sweet, the Traralgon Ultimate Frisbee Club has donated a weeks worth of player fees to the family in form of Coles Gift Cards so they could purchase food, and the amount of support has restored my faith in humanity.
I am going to be updating this blog with what is happening in my town as time goes on.