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Mike Macgirvin

mike@macgirvin.com

Mike Macgirvin
 High Range, Australia 
This photo made the creator a finalist for the Moran Prize. It's a pretty striking image.

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#bushfire
Manuel
  
In Spain we have already started the fire season. You will have heard that for very little has not burned Doñana, so the image is of a sad actuality: the desert that comes ...
Maria Karlsen
  
The firefighters are true heroes. Great picture, beautiful and frightening at the same time.
Mike Macgirvin
  
It appears that I will need to change Australian news sources as all the other Aussie news websites have now gone pay-per-view.

Mum, kids escape Victorian bushfire by sheltering in dam

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Dramatic pictures show a family forced to shelter in a dam during the Victorian bushfires.


#bushfire
Mike Macgirvin
  
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Two months later:

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#bushfire
Mike Macgirvin
  last edited: Sat, 09 Nov 2013 18:44:36 +1100  
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I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colors anymore I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes

I see a line of cars and they're all painted black
With flowers and my love, both never to come back
I see people turn their heads and quickly look away
Like a newborn baby it just happens ev'ryday

I look inside myself and see my heart is black
I see my red door and it has been painted black
Maybe then I'll fade away and not have to face the facts
It's not easy facing up when your whole world is black

No more will my green sea go turn a deeper blue
I could not forsee this thing happening to you
If I look hard enough into the setting sun
My love will laugh with me before the morning comes

I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colors anymore I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes

Hmm, hmm, hmm...

I wanna see it painted black, painted black
Black as night, black as coal
I wanna see the sun, blotted out from the sky
I wanna see it painted, painted, painted, painted black
Yeah

Hmm, hmm, hmm...

-- Mick Jagger and Keith Richards


#bushfire
Mike Macgirvin
  
Now imagine this as far as the eye can see. Kilometer after kilometer. Hill after valley after hill after valley.
Mike Macgirvin
  
You know it's going to be "one of those days" when fire trucks outnumber cars on the road by about 2 to 1. Mittagong has turned into a camp ground for volunteer fire fighters from other regions. The local Maccas (McDonalds) was full of fire fighters getting a quick snack before heading back into the fray. The freeway is nothing but smoke as far as the eye can see - with visibility down to 5 meters in spots. Even coming over the top of the hill where the view changes from trees to a sweeping panorama of the South Pacific - it's all just haze.

The southern flank of the Hall's Road fire has turned and is now threatening Hill Top and Alpine. Yerrinbool residents have been told to evacuate. Wollongong residents have been advised to watch out for embers flying over the escarpment. There's no place to hide.

Feel sorry for the folks in the Blue Mountains. We've got it bad, they've got it worse. The current worst case scenario has two of the largest fires joining together and rolling out of the mountains into western Sydney, steamrolling dozens of communities in its path.

This could get a lot worse before it gets any better.

#bushfire
Mike Macgirvin
  
- The fire jumped containment lines near _________
- weather conditions are deteriorating
- more towns and villages under threat
- ______ Road has been closed
- ___ more homes lost

This is starting to remind me of when I was young and kept playing the same Jimi Hendrix or Santana record over and over again.

You can see it in the eyes of the people around you. Blank stares. Occasionally somebody will crack a joke, but nobody laughs. They want to, but for today - humour is gone. Everybody is exhausted with little sleep. No relief in sight. A resignation that there's nothing you can do but persevere and try to keep going and stay alive. I know those stares. I saw it when my brother came back from Vietnam in the 60s.

#bushfire
Mike Macgirvin
  
Today we had a bit of temporary relief. Tomorrow the madness is expected to return.
Mike Macgirvin
  
Not at the moment. I had to leave my 110v 60hz generator in America and haven't yet replaced it with one that works here. We're dirt poor.

So when the electricity fails, we'll have to rely on gravity.
Mike Macgirvin
  
Mike Macgirvin
  
This is soooo not a good day to have the house's main water line rupture. :-(

#bushfire
Mike Macgirvin
  
Hosing the roof (metal) isn't going to have much impact on the burn risk and any cooling off is bound to be short-lived.

The primary risk is spotfires caused by flying embers carried in the wind - landing on something combustible and not being able to catch it and douse it before it spreads. So I'm trying to keep the perimeter (from the outside brick wall and out about ten meters all around) soaked or at least minimally combustible. Nine times out of ten, houses being lost around here are fires to doorways and the overhanging eaves, which are covered in fibreboard - and once the fire gets into the roof cavity (from below) or inside the house via a doorway it's all over.

12:45 and 32C and the promised high winds failed to materialise. Let's hope they don't.

Water line is #fixed. Went through half a tank of rain water already today (about 10k liters). I'm so glad we have a bore (well) for backup.
Mike Macgirvin
  
That's what I thought 45 minutes ago, but things are changing quickly.
Mike Macgirvin
  
This old kookaburra with sooty feathers has been camped out on the chook shed all morning. Hasn't moved, hasn't made a peep. (Kookaburras are typically quite vocal.)

I'm guessing he had a rough night.

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#bushfire
Mike Macgirvin
  last edited: Sun, 20 Oct 2013 17:28:10 +1100  
Here I'm about 1km from the front line.

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This is as close as I'm getting.


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Shit. It moved.

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Glad to be home - but it looks a bit different than when I left. That's a dead tree, not a burnt tree. The fire didn't reach here - yet. Only the smoke.


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#bushfire
Mike Macgirvin
  
There's no direct threat at this time, but the darn thing just keeps creeping closer. It only took four hours to get from Balmoral to Winton. I'm about the same distance from the southern edge. If the wind shifts, four hours isn't a lot of time.
Mike Macgirvin
  
Having a bush fire plan is mandatory if you live near the bush. My basic plan is to try and defend the property and there's an elaborate plan for the various contingencies involved. This property appears to be defensible. Many bush properties aren't, and your only option is to get out while you can. Still if there's a wall of flame from hell coming toward me, I can be gone in under ten minutes - 8 minutes of which will consist of herding house pets. If the wall of flame is less than five minutes away, the pets are on their own. For livestock - we've got gates between adjoining properties precisely for bush fires. You open all the gates and let the animal's natural instincts take over.

Admittedly these fires are inconvenient for humans, but they are a necessary part of the Australian eco-system. Gum trees have evolved to be consumed by fire - as this re-germinates the forests. Other plants and animals are cyclic and only thrive during the periods when there's an ash bed. The aboriginals learned over tens of millennia how and when to burn the forests in order to maintain their food sources and keep themselves alive. It's a very fascinating place.
zottel
  
Good luck—again. :-/
Mike Macgirvin
  last edited: Sun, 20 Oct 2013 17:31:14 +1100  
A picture is worth a thousand words

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#bushfire
Mike Macgirvin
  
I found it interesting having a glance at America's major news media yesterday. The Australian fires didn't get a mention. A kangaroo bounding through the Melbourne airport however was front page news.