This is an article I wrote after the black saturday fires in 2009. It was published on Eham here
As some of you know, there have been some very big fires over the last few days in the state of Victoria. Which still at this moment are still going.
Now most areas of the USA don’t really get the same sort of wildfires or bushfires as we call them here, except for California.
Anyway last Thursday, we heard that the coming Saturday, would be the worst fire conditions for a generation. So knowing this I called my parents, as they are in one of the dangerous areas and that there was a fire that had been started by lightning the previous week which was nearby.
We talked about our fire safety plan, which was if the fire was near and had the possibility of moving towards their house, the only option was to leave. Here in Victoria Australia, the CFA (Country Fire Authority) gives people two options, get out early, or stay and fight.
We got to my parents on Friday evening, and on Saturday morning, set up the radio gear. Early in the morning I jumped on to an 80 metre net that I join most weekends, to have a chat. I spoke with one of my friends who is very knowledgeable about the forest near us (Bunyip State Park) and I asked him for some advice.
At this time I tuned to one of our local AM stations the ABC 774 (3LO) as during emergencies they start broadcasting information about emergencies, road closures and the like.
I set up my radio to scan through the CFA and DSE radio frequencies, along with my local repeater (VK3REC) and the 2 metre calling frequency.
Also making sure we had all of our batteries charged, and ready to go, as in fire conditions power supply is not a given.
Using the information gathered from the CFA and DSE, and 774. We were able to chart the progress of the fire using google maps.
Combined with the information from the Bureau of Meteorology we were able to see which way the wind was moving and the prevailing weather conditions.
As the day moved on, the fire move closer, but still far enough away. Then the cool change came, the wind direction was unpredictable the fire moved closer, and we then heard on the radio that they were assembling fire strike teams nearby.
The fires appeared to be ten kilometres away from us, or about six miles. With this cool change coming we decided to leave. There was no way to know which way the fire would move.
In the end my parents house was safe as the fire moved away from us. And we returned the following morning, so many were not lucky like we were. And I almost broke down on the club net the following morning.
But I guess what I’m trying to say here, preparation for any natural disaster is key. We were prepared listening to every source of information, to be able to make our decisions on what to do.
If you ever have to confront a situation like this make sure you have your safety plans created well in advance, make sure you have battery backup for certain systems, such as radios. And Be prepared!