COMMENT: Eastern fires a warning to create survival plan

IT has been 36 years since the Ash Wednesday fires in South Australia.

The biggest bushfire before that in our district was in 1956.

With fires raging on the east coast, I cannot help but think about how vulnerable we may be here again over the coming months.

Fire is a part of this continent’s story.

However, I never want to experience another day like the one here in 1983.

The chaos of tragedy did lead to updated approaches to vegetation under power lines and procedures in schools and their management of students have been refined.

Firefighting trucks, equipment and uniforms have developed in sophistication.

Nevertheless, I look at how close pines have been planted to the Mount Burr township over the years.

Whoever made the decision to instigate such plantings may well have not even been born in 1983.

I was a teacher at Millicent High School on Ash Wednesday in 1983 and I will never forget the flames roaring across the Mount Burr range.

Buses did not run on a number of routes and we held students at the school until well into the night.

We are not in drought and cool and damp weather has persisted to the late weeks of spring.

There is some good in this agriculturally, but the fuel load over the hottest months will be substantial.

We are urged to have a bushfire plan – what each household will do, will we stay and defend or leave and if so, where will we go?

I suspect few actually make such a plan.

Those who experienced Ash Wednesday in 1983 and lost family members, homes or stock may do so.

A degree of complacency has enveloped many.

It may still be green now but this will not last.

In the rage of a bushfire, it will be too late to make a plan.

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