Dating sites ash
The fires became the deadliest bushfire in Australian history until the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009. Over 3,700 buildings were destroyed or damaged and 2,545 individuals and families lost their homes.Livestock losses were very high, with over 340,000 sheep, 18,000 cattle and numerous native animals either dead or later destroyed.
Ahead of the front were hot, turbulent, gale force northerly winds.Property loss began early in the afternoon, particularly in the Adelaide Hills, east of Adelaide and the Dandenong Ranges, east of Melbourne. I'm sitting out on the road in front of my own house where I've lived for 13 or 14 years and it's going down in front of me. "Three quarters of an hour later the roof was burning", said Mr Morgan.And the flames are in the roof and—Oh, God damn it. Flames across the road and road blocks prevented the family from returning to the house, until it was burnt to the ground. All of these houses have since been restored and are privately owned.The long corridors of flame that had been driven all day by the strong northerly were suddenly hit by gale force south-westerly winds and became enormous fire fronts, many kilometres wide, reportedly moving faster than 110 km/h.that produced tornado-like fire whirls and fireballs of eucalyptus gas measuring over three metres across.In many places, rainfall over winter and spring had been as little as half the previous record low and severe water restrictions were imposed in Melbourne in November.
On 24 November, the earliest Total Fire Ban in forty years was proclaimed in Victoria.
The first fire was reported at am at Mc Laren Flat, south of Adelaide. Next door at Eurilla, Kym and Julie Bonython lost all of their worldly possessions, including antiques, paintings, and most regrettably, Kym Bonython's extensive Jazz Record collection. At this time, this part of the Adelaide Hills was still not connected to the mains water supply, so all of the houses had only petrol powered pumps and rainwater tanks.
Within hours, multiple reports of breaking fires quickly began to deluge Victoria's and South Australia's emergency services. "The petrol in the emergency pump just vaporised with the heat" said Kym Bonython. Across the road at Pine Lodge (formerly the Mt Lofty Tea Rooms), the resident rolled out the property's fire hose, connected it to the working diesel pump, only to find that embers were already burning numerous holes in the hose, rendering it useless.
In Victoria alone, 180 fires were reported, eight of which became major fires. Down the road at Mount Lofty House, Mr and Mrs James Morgan lost $150,000 worth of furniture and artwork, which they had moved into the huge house only a fortnight before the fires, when they purchased the property.
At one stage, the entire Melbourne metropolitan area was encircled by an arc of fire. At pm on Wednesday, Mr and Mrs Morgan went to pick up their children for the local school and kindergarten.
Wednesday 16 February— Ash Wednesday on the Christian calendar—dawned as another unrelentingly hot, dry day.