Posts Tagged ‘ Victorian Bushfires ’

It’s finally over,

I’ve decided to shelve the image host reviews, for two reasons, one was due to the fact that it wasn’t particularly popular; and because I became aware of an monumental event occurred on the 14th of March, though apologies for not reporting sooner, as it was only brought to my attention recently. While I had been following the news feeds for any information relating to my previous stories; however, as information coming out of the bushfire region has dried to non-existence, I missed this critical piece of information.

On Saturday 14th of March, the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment, who had overall control of the task of combating these hellish bushfires, declared that all fires in Victoria had been contained. This action effectively ends the 42 day disaster period.
I was in Melbourne towards the tail end of this crisis, and I can say, that the DSE handled things well, considering how ill prepared they were for the disaster that followed.

The Bushfires claimed the lives of 210 Victorians, destroyed more than 2000 homes and burnt 421,670 hectares of public and private land since starting on February 7, and despite promising news from authorities, there are still spot fires burning within control lines, however the recent rain Victoria has experienced, as well as a milder climate compared to the start of February, these fires are not expected to be any threat to any person, property or national park.

Despite this respite, Victoria’s bushfire season is far from over, unless the region receives prolonged heavy rain, there is a potential for severe fire days in March and April.
While this news is troubling to say the least, this current slow patch will allow Victorian authorities the chance to take a break, and prepare the land for the fires that may appear in later weeks.

While the amount is still disputable, I can say with some certainty, that over 190 million Dollars Australian was raised domestically for the bushfire relief, and another ten million raised from international support, give or take ten thousand dollars either way. In the middle of an economic crisis this alone shows that when its hit the fan, people can rally to the cause and do what has to be done. Despite my reservations about certain aspects of humanity, its very stirring to see that there are still some redeemable qualities in the world.

While the fires may be over, the bushfire appeal is still very much in operation, and I urge all my readers to contribute anything, with the reminder that all donations over $2 are tax deductable. The link to the major donation service is the Red Cross Australia Bushfire Fund. I would like to once again thank those of my readers that already donated through other drives. The DocNetwork has personally donated $65 AUD and 168 man hours to the Bushfire’s, not to mention the time we spent covering it.

As this world changing event draws to a close, I would like to once again, thank my loyal readers, who visit the blog daily, and I assure you, that there will be something new daily, or at least I hope their will be.

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Well I’m back guys

Well technically I came back on Thursday, but, it does take a while to get used to a day and a night, when you spent an entire week working during pitch black evenings for 12 hours. I was going to write something before now, but, I found that every time I did, I fell asleep.

Once again I would like to thank Kiwinerd and Felix, who watched the DocNetwork in my absence, as for Big T’s Gripe List, well all I can say is I don’t know what has happened with that. I’m going to keep following that one, but until I do, please enjoy the past incarnations, and I am sure that he will get his newest one when he is able.

Now I had planned to write a series of articles about my deployment into Victoria, but due to some of the information I was privy to, being not for public consumption, in that regard, I have written an article, I just have to have it verified by no less than two organizational bodies, to make sure that nothing that isn’t already in the media doesn’t come out and what not.

What I can write about however, was what Felix graciously posted for me earlier. I know that was not my normal style, but when you are restricted to 280 characters in two SMS messages, you aren’t writing Pulitzers.

I have said it once, I’ve said it before, and I will continue saying it, if it wasn’t for the Kiwi fire crews, the night shift that I was on, would have been pure boredom. Every evening, after the Kiwi’s came down off the line, four or five Kiwi’s would swing by the treatment tent, though not for any injuries they had sustained, but to have a yarn with us, each day was a different group of guys, almost as if they had a roster of who was going to keep us company, though it didn’t help, that at 1am, when they did return to camp, we had the only lighting and chairs, probably didn’t hurt as well.

Apart from working with the Kiwi’s, I also got to see Blue Thunder of a daily basis, now I had initially hoped that I would see the largest firefighting helicopter in the Southern Hemisphere, I had not anticipated that I would get as close as I did.

Since returning, I have done an interview for the TWiT Army SoundOff, which will go into more detail about my deployment, though I had hoped it would be more about me and what I do, then Victoria, but hey what can ya do.

Apart from this, I got Halo Wars the other day, will be writing up a review of that soon as well.

Doc’s Going to Melbourne

Evening folks.

As I write this, I have exactly seven hours before I am expected to travel into Victoria to assist my fellow Knights Hospitallier (that’s the Ancestral Name of St John Ambulance) who have been pushed to the limit, and desperately need some relief. The Victoria Divisions put the call out for as many interstate members as they could to help out and Doc answered the call, and will be heading in to do what he can.

I was supposed to go into Victoria on Monday, but a unit had already been formed, and was already on its way, however, I received a call from my Duty Officer saying that a second force was being mobilised and I was going to head into Victoria tomorrow morning; I was initially told that I would be going in next week, but it seems that they want an overlap of members.

I have spent all of today running around making sure I had everything I needed, and I have to say that St John Ambulance issue Duffels, DO NOT fit the required days of civilian clothes and Uniforms, for 5 days, three maybe, but 5, not a chance. Especially when you add all the other equipment they want us to bring, I will write up the list when I get back, I can understand how the Paratroopers felt during WW2.
Yes that’s right folks, Doc is being deployed into Victoria for a week, but do not fret, the DocNetwork will continue during this time.

I will be getting into contact with Terence, to find out when his Gripe list will be written, and hopefully seeing if he can start writing additional columns, and I will be writing daily reports, though they will be a LOT smaller, but that’s because they will be written on my N95, as I have to leave my beloved notebook at home.

During this time, I will be handing the custodial duties over to two TWiT Army members, who have offered to hold the fort until I return.
For the duration of my deployment, I have appointed Kiwinerd, and Felix, to the Editorial staff. They will be responsible for comment approval, and general maintenance of the blog. Felix will also be responsible for migrating my reports from my Vox mobile account to this one, as the free WordPress doesn’t support mobile publishing.

Felix will also be sending me updates and questions through the Vox system, as I won’t have access to Twitter… well I am going to try and get a hold of Twitter whenever I get a chance.

Once again I would like to profusely thank Kiwi and Felix for offering to watch the place for me.

During this time, the Twitter notification system will NOT be operational, as I will not be here to update it, so please swing by daily to see what’s happening in Fire ravaged Victoria.

National Day of mourning

Those of you waiting for Big T’s gripe list for this week may be out of luck, as I haven’t heard from my partner in crime since Friday, however, when and if I hear from him, I will make sure that his Gripes list ends up posted.

Today, even as fires still rage in parts of Victoria, the Government has declared a national day of mourning for those 209 victims that have now been confirmed dead, and while experts have speculated that the death toll will continue to rise, they also agree that some measure of closure needs to be established.

A national ceremony held at the Telstra Dome in Melbourne, and televised live throughout Australia, and on the Sky Network internationally, went for a little over two hours, and featured a number of talented Australian Musicians, as well as addresses from local leaders, and a message from the Prime Message; Princess Anne, was in attendance representing the Queen and Royal Family.

While I was aware that this event was taking place, and I did in fact watch the latter end of the broadcast, I unfortunately missed a lot of the addresses by the various dignitaries, this was more to the fact that I was still shovelling through the piles of leads that I have had placed on my desk about other events occurring in the same area.

Going forward, the Federal Government has stated that on February 7 of every year will be listed as a memorial day, much akin to the anniversary to 9/11, where all Federal buildings will fly the Australian Flag at half mast, as a way of remembering this tragedy.
On a positive note, the Federal Government has said that it would spare no resource to rebuild these ravaged towns, sure this network has its misgivings about the PM, but at least the sentiment is in the right place.

While the DocNetwork is not directly threatened by fire, our sympathies go out to those that have lost everything.

Next week will see the DocNetwork will be taking this show in the road, well at least the part that I am related to anyway; I have been informed that I am to head into Victoria to assist in the relief effort; so while I might not be able to get the reports out, they will be published on my return. Be sure to keep a watch here as who knows what titbits I might find.

Bushfires reach Facebook

I had hoped that the news from the Victorian Bushfires, would have dried up by now, as the mainstream news carriers, have stopped devoted entire broadcasts, to it, however, I had also expected this news to surface, though additional reports have surprised me.

As of Tuesday, the Deathtoll finally reached 200, after nearly four days at 181, with more bodies identified in the Kinglake region fires. The Kinglake Complex, which covers a vast section of Victoria’s central highlands, alone, counts for 139, of the 200 killed with authorities stating that it could take weeks before a final death toll is able to be counted.
This horrific revelation, that country towns of only 200+ are losing 40 people, it places the emotional burden onto the townspeople, who while the Rudd Government has stated that they will spend however much is required to rebuild, many locals have stated that they would not return.

According to official CFA reports, there are roughly 11 fires still burning in Victoria, though most of these are now outside of threat areas for residential areas, there are a number of smaller fires burning, but they are also under control, or contained.

While the public outpouring of support for the victims of the Victorian Bushfires has been overwhelming, not only has it been from Australia, but a number of International companies as well as not for profit, and fan based Organizations, including the 501st Legion, and its sister group; the Rebel Legion (the 501st and Rebel Legion collectively raised five thousand Dollars), and Leo Laporte’s TWiT Army, have donated considerable amounts to the millions raised in Australia.
On the same hand, the revulsion, condemnation and public attacks on one of the convicted arsonists, Brendan Sokaluk has been the polar opposite, after a quick search, more than 12 groups on the social networking site Facebook, have been created, dedicated to the death, torture, or otherwise physical harm on this man, the most popular of these is called “Brendan Sokaluk, the Victorian Bushfires Arsonist, must burn in hell,” which has more than 3500 members as of this morning.

While the DocNetwork as an online entity, as a source of unbiased news, does not and will not support any form of vigilante justice; we however, do understand, and sympathise with those demanding justice of a man who has been charged for allegedly starting a fire that has killed 21 people and destroyed 39000 acres of property. We however, draw the line on personal attacks on members of Mr Sokaluk’s family, or past or present relations. It is not their fault they are related to this monster.

If the masses wish to vent their anger and frustration, please make sure that you are focusing it in the right direction, all Brendan Sokaluk’s family has done, was birthed and raised this miscreant, and his former girlfriend do was fall in love with him. They have not started any fires. Though we are relieved that the mob is turning to the Internet to let of their frustrations, instead of resorting to revenge attacks against this vile excuse of a human being.

The DocNetwork will continue following this story, and will update you whenever new information develops. No doubt there will be additional commentary about this.

Victorian Bushfires: the End is near?

After a long week of depressing news, I can say with Friday coming to an end, and a new weekend dawns that a great deal of good news has started to emerge from the blackened soil of Victoria. According to official reports all but six of the fifteen odd fires in Victoria are burning out of control however reports state that there is no direct threat to any residential areas; while early reports that there was a fire that was threatening a major Gas plant and Water distribution Facility have not been confirmed, In an official statement from the Department of Sustainability and Environment, every measure is being made to bring all fires currently threatening residential areas under control, or to at least minimise the threat.

In the hunt for those responsible for this madness, following an initial false start, Task Force Phoenix, has reported that a man, deemed responsible for the deadly Churchill area bushfires has been charged with arson causing death, and one count of lighting a bushfire, authorities have also speculated that the same man is responsible for numerous other fires that were lit last Saturday and Sunday.

Of this individual, all we know of him is that he is 39, a Victorian native, and was arrested in a public place, when approached; he went with authorities without a fight. The Police have refrained to release any further information about this piece of work, other than he was caught with child pornography in his possession. If convicted, this miscreant could face a maximum of 40 years in jail, however this jail time when broken down will equal to 25 years for arson, and 15 for the act of lighting bushfires.

Despite the fact that this was plastered across the paid news services about how this man was disturbed and possessed kiddie porn, it is quite bizarre that he has not actually been charged with this fact; now the DocNetwork is not going speculate as to why this is the case, though it seems convenient that this revelation had been made public knowledge on the cusp of the live trial of the dubious Mandatory Internet Filter, as if the lack of coverage on the live trial was not bad enough, but they must resort to this a well.

I was approached by a new reader of the DocNetwork, who wondered why if reports if over 250 bodies had been recovered from the fire zone, then why hadn’t the official death toll increased in step with the discoveries. After a little bit of searching I have been able to come to a more than likely reason to this fact, as the authorities have not released a definitive explanation.
Australia does not have a definitive nor extensive DNA catalogue, and on occasion Dental records not being available, Forensic scientists have had to rely on alternative methods of identification, tattoo’s and jewellery are two constants in life, and as such, they are using them to identify bodies. This process is taking time, and at times not successful. Initially the authorities increased the death toll with everybody they found, based on who was missing from that region; however when people thought dead turned up after a day or two, the Police decided to only raise the death toll when they could confirm the identity of the body. This is the reason, as far as we are aware, as to why the Death Toll is still 181, despite over 250 bodies have been recovered.

As the news coming out of Victoria is drying up, this might be the last report about the Bushfires. We would like to thank our readers for sticking around; we hope you stick around in the future

Counting the Cost

Yesterdays hopeful news that I had planned to announce came true today, for a complete 24 hours, the Death Toll has remained at 181 confirmed dead, however, the number of missing has increased from 80 to 100, authorities have also stated that the death toll will reach 200 by Friday, though the Victorian Coroner has made provision for 300.

Apart from the human cost of this disaster, wildlife officials have stated that nearly one million animals, including native animals, livestock and pets, have been killed as a result of these fires, some of which may have been lit by human intervention. As a result of several reports from Victorian Police, a Special 100 strong Taskforce Phoenix, has been formed to investigate the a large number of the fires that have been deemed to have been lit by human involvement, there are fresh reports that new fires have been deliberately lit as late as last night, sparking an outcry of condemnation from Authorities and the public alike.

While the DocNetwork initially reported that over 30,000 hectares (misspoken as acres in the interview with Leo Laporte) had been destroyed by fire, an updated, and more accurate total of 400,000 hectares (or 1 million acres; or the state of Rhode Island) has been declared destroyed by fire, with a nearly a thousand homes destroyed.

To try and counter the cost of life or property the Federal Government has said that they will spend however much it takes to rebuild fire ravaged Victoria. However DocNetwork is very critical of the Federal Government at this time, as on the one hand they are vowing to rebuild these towns without fear of cost, they are on the other hand, testing a flawed Internet Censorship Policy, where Prime Minister Rudd tries to block websites that his Government finds Objectionable, in a vain attempt to stop internet Child Pornography, a blatantly illegal attempt to control Australians web activities. The DocNetwork will be running a separate article of this technological atrocity at a later point.

Aside from the 35 American Fire Experts, the United States is sending an additional 60 experts that will be crucial in rebuilding the devastated fire areas.

Please stay tuned to the DocNetwork, as we will continue to cover the Victorian Bushfires.