For some reason, I haven't written a post for some time but in light of this week's events, I feel compelled to write about the most extraordinary people who make up the volunteers of the Rural Fire Services. Men & women of all ages - and some well into their 70's, youngsters with parental permission, are all there... shoulder to shoulder fighting to save communities, homes and lives.
In times of natural disasters, I have been in awe of the camaraderie, community spirit and total stoicism of the people here in in Australia. I remember too well the terrible floods in Queensland a couple of years ago when thousands of people turned up with brooms, spades, mops, buckets etc., all to lend a hand to those affected by the horrendous floods, some having travelled from afar.
There will be no more pressing and dangerous time than tomorrow for those areas in NSW which remain under threat from the fires. Tomorrow promises to be a widespread "extreme weather" day, which, if overlaid with the existing extreme fire danger across an enormous area, will prove to be very challenging for all those involved in the fight. The State of Emergency Management Committee has outlined the following statistics. With temperatures of mid to high 30's, humidity less than 10% and hot wind gusts between 40 - 100km an hour, tomorrow will be "as bad as it can get" according to Fire Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons. All schools in the Blue Mountains will be closed, and he has urged families in the areas under threat to leave their homes by mid-morning. "On days like tomorrow, minutes will matter", he said. The conditions tomorrow may also result in new outbreaks. More than 3000 firefighters will be dispatched with 90 aircraft on standby.
I can only imagine the exhaustion of the firefighters who have been fighting these horrendous fires, day and night, for nearly a week.
My thoughts and prayers are especially with them tonight as they face what can only be described as an horrific day ahead.