It's hard to describe what last Saturday was like a week after the event. I know my man had been working on the fire at Boolara and had gone out early to begin another day. The weather seemed pretty innocuous with bright sunshine and a coolish breeze. Forty six degrees was forecast, which seemed hard to believe.
Around lunchtime the heat began to kick in, and while the air conditioner did its job keeping the temperature down to 27C in the house, opening the door meant stepping out into a hot bath, with thick, super heated air. The wind whipped up into a frenzy. Small fires across on the northern ranges began sending up thick columns of smoke and creeping across the hills. Phone calls from my firefighter sounded very worried as things rapidly spiraled out of control. They were pulled off the fire line for the bulk of the day as it was deemed too dangerous.
Radio and television told of houses burning and people dying, or having near misses. Images of burnt out cars that had crashed into each other in the thick smoke showed the horror that must have been.
The newspapers have been full of it all week, with photos of those that died, families and heroes. A seventeen year old boy took his camera and filmed while his parents rushed around trying to save their house.
A dehydrated wild koala with burned paws was filmed as he drank from a fireman's bottle, trusting and desperate.
Cities grew on football ovals as thousands, who had no place to go, moved into army tents.
One hundred and eighty one people have died at last count, and many more are in hospital with burns.
Australia began to donate to a Red Cross fund for the survivors which now totals over $81,000,000. The Australian Cricket team and Shane Warne visited the oval and plays cricket with the kids, and a telethon with many of Australian elite performers were on board.
In the middle of all this excitement, my man gets up at 5.30 am and leaves at 6 to start at 7, and works on the fire line all day to return home at 9 or 10 pm. He arrives with blackened face and clothes, smelling of soot, happy to be home and safe for another day. The DSE firemen do not figure much on the TV, as they are usually working hard in the forest away from the cameras, but he's my hero.
I spent a couple of days in hospital this week to have my knee manipulated under anesthetic and am hoping to get a better result once the pain and swelling subsides.