The Churchill Fire


Formally known as Hazelwood Churchill was purpose built to accommodate workers involved in the construction and maintenance of the Hazelwood power station in nineteen sixty five to ten was renamed in posthumous owner of Foam British. Promised us so Winston Churchill and grew into a commuter suburb for those working in neighbouring areas. Like Hey did one. Hundred and sixty kilometers southeast of Mobin. Churchill phages a commercial centre for its several thousand locals with Wad pock land separating residential areas industrial estates dense tree plantations and national park and dig- Ridges of farmland frame the township which is home to the Seaney Colli highland and two golden tail nine locally is the beat cigar after Winston Churchill's trademark smoking habit at one thirty two PM on Sunday February. Seven two thousand nine triple zero. Emergency services received a call regarding a wildfire just sawed Churchill. The blaze was full. Columbia south east of town near the intersection of Glenn Donald Road and Jealous Outlet to unsealed stretches of winding roadway that cut through the rural outskirts. It had emerged from the bottom of a natural basin the Bennetts creek catchment which consisted of blue gum. Eucalypt and upon plantations surrounded by hazardous surface fuels such as shrubs wag grass and blackberry bushes. Three minutes after the coal a pilot flying firefighting aircraft ten kilometers from Churchill. Saw Did a column of doc smoke hundreds of feet high rausing from the fires location within ten minutes the flames troubled roughly one Columba and were in the vicinity of forests managed by Timber Company. Hancock Victorian plantations the plantations surveillance planes. Which were Riva's seeing the entirety of the latrobe valley that day would deserted to Churchill to carry out reconnaissance work despite being in its early stages. The fires behavior was noted. As extreme by the Tom. First responders arrived the blaze had spread rapidly and was burning on both sides of jealousy outlet spot. Fires Begin igniting a rounded straining resources and impacting efforts to tackle the central inferno directly requests? Were made for more tankers and dare support however de intense hate was causing water to evaporate before it even hit the ground. The focus then shifted to warning surrounding communities of the urgent threat. Road blocks were established. Durant the file as emergency services personnel visited nearby residences to raise the alarm but two pm the fire had been raging for those often Allah and remained out of control despite the arrival of additional firefighting crews. It continued to move in southeasterly direction through the Broad Valley of benefits. Craig ECRU observed the fire cresting to reach along. Jira lying North Road and by the fifty minute mark. It had traveled about seven kilometers. More spot. Fires were reported and by three PM. The blaze had burned through a plan plantation and to damage the communications our efforts to protect assets continued as emergency relief centres were established in nearby townships at three twenty pm. The fire had destroyed. Its first time. Stead at the intersection of Thomson and to Jira Lying. North roads but five fifteen pm it was approaching the slopes of men tasr e ten kilometers juice out east of Churchill and spotting to the mountains east side as emergency crews tackled they surrounding spot fires. The apex of being funar raged on woods. Elliott that day a strategy is bureau of Meteorology had predicted a severe wind. Change that would hit land between six and eight. Pm shortly before. Four o'clock there. Prediction was amended to the window of five thirty and seven. Pm The planning officer responsible for the Churchill Fire Unaware of the amendment told the Incident Management Team to expect at the midpoint of seven when they change arrived and now earlier than anticipated at sent seventy kilometer and now a gusts through the region that suddenly shifted the fire in a northeasterly direction. The winds posed a significant threat to way across and forced them to land as fifteen kilometer. Long uncontrolled flank of. Phya developed that ran from the origin. Point Nature Chill through to the east side of Tozzi as it progressed fullwood burning debris rained down and ignited the surrounding vegetation almost instantly. It was accompanied by an east bleeding rush of what noise described by witnesses as the sand of immense pressure. Lucca that of a jet engine. Following this hurricane like wind change the file was at. Its most dangerous threatening multiple townships as well as the one wrong state forest residents working fervently to defend their himes when now blinded by an Ol- encompassing blackness composed of Smokin Dash. All of a sudden the in band firestorm had peed through the dock. Luckily Sunrise Churchill Resident Greg. We stated on you. The fire front was coming. You could hear it. You could smell it. You could feel the hate coming up out of the valley. The flames were right there. And where the heart of the trees and to that again. Three hundred Fateha plus there were big swirling vortexes is just a big swirling masses of flames that would burst and explode out of the treetops' shortly after six PM. Three water tankers belonging to volunteer. Fire Service the country fire authority were involved. In a series of Burn I've is wherein their crews were forced to take shelter where possible as the firing trapped them the boon either hit with quote great ferocity firefight at Graham Chesterton recall blackwood say MBA's thought the full was locked out coming from everywhere. The became very smokey and everything started to burn rapidly. That was spot FIS on the ground. All the rant me and the trees dotted burning at that stage aghast. I had about ten to fifteen seconds until I would have to make a move. Within those seconds the conditions deteriorated so rapidly. That are realized that wasn't safe too late truck. At that time a did not night where rule Marc crew members. Were on the decision to make a May Day call us said something along. The lines of we are completely surrounded by fire Tabun. I've lasted an estimated ten minutes firefighting crews elsewhere listened. Says their colleagues frantically broadcast may calls. I've Aradio but were unable to approach the scene due to the level of danger or they could do was respond. There is nothing we can do for you incredibly. None of the firefighter discord in the burn. Iva lost their lives the via finally slowed at eight PM. And by the following day of Sunday February I it was mostly brought to a whole l. Dive burning continued in heavily feud areas the Churchill fire named after its point of origin was not a visually listed under control until eleven days later on February nineteen more than six hundred firefighting personnel battled the blaze supported by one hundred and five vehicles and appliances in total. It had burned more than twenty five thousand eight hundred and sixty one heck Dez and destroyed one hundred forty five times elsewhere. Four hundred separate bushfires had devastated the Victorian landscape with the most destructive and deadly being the king like into Marysville FIS in the sites northeast collectively the fires had released eighty thousand kilowatts of. Hey the equivalent of five hundred atomic bombs. One hundred and seventy three. Papal had perished and four hundred and fourteen were left injured more than two thousand times and ten thousand kilometers of fence. Lon had been raised and an estimated one million animals were killed. Buerry seven two thousand nine became the deadliest bushfire. Catastrophe in Victoria's history and was henceforth referred to as black Saturday

Coming up next