Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Stepping into the light and bringing together the images and stories of our world.
Through my blog I am
seeking to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.
I am a Freelance Journalist and Photographer based in Bunbury, Western Australia. My published work specialises in Western Australian travel articles and stories about inspiring everyday people. My passion is photography, writing, travel, wildflower and food photography.
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Sunday, 10 January 2016

Western Australia is burning

It is the summer fire season in Australia and there are devastating bush-fires raging over Western Australia in the Waroona-Yarloop-Harvey area south of Perth and near Esperance on our south coast (Esperance update pm Sunday - has now been downgraded to Watch & Act).

 The bushfire in the Waroona-Yarloop-Harvey area was started by a lightning strike and  even though  the bushfire is over 60kms from where I live I have felt paralysed the last few days thinking about the two men who died in their homes, the infrastructure and over 100 homes destroyed, over 72 thousand hectares of farmland and bushland that has been destroyed, the farm animals that may have been lost, and the wild animals that have lost their lives in the fire. 


 

We have been glued to the radio and internet listening for emergency warning updates. Even where we live in suburbia we were on an "Alert". Fearing a spot fire caused by flying burning embers, we went out into the yard and swept up dry leaves and cleared out of our gutters. As I worked I felt sick with nervousness. I couldn't imagine what those affected by the fire were going through. 

 Hundreds of people have been evacuated from the area to two evacuation centres, residents and holiday makers at Preston Beach have sheltered on the beach or been taken away by boat. Some people fled their homes with only the clothes they were wearing. Some, in the small town of Yarloop stayed to try and defend their homes, only to watch it burn to the ground before they were evacuated. The historic railway and timber industry workshops and museum in Yarloop were completely destroyed.

The fire crews, volunteer bushfire brigades, pilots, water bombers, drivers, cooks, logistics personnel, Dept of Fire & Emergency Services, Dept of Parks & Wildlife, residents and individuals, have been doing a huge job battling this blaze in the blistering heat and shifting windy conditions, trying to put in containment lines, protecting homes and doing their part to assist. Even down to the grandmother repairing her grandson's fire fighting clothing between shifts. I salute you all. You are our heroes.  

The list goes on - so many doing what they can to assist - collecting donations, feeding and sheltering wandering stock, vets helping injured animals, people supplying firefighters with food, holding fund raising events, comforting those that have lost everything.

As I write, on Sunday afternoon there is still a bushfire emergency warning in place, there is still a threat to lives, homes and property, and people in the path of the fire are being urged to evacuate. 
Update Monday morning 11 January - Fire emergency situation has now been downgraded to "watch & act". The fire is contained but not controlled. There is still a threat to lives & homes, and conditions in the area are still unsafe. 
Mild weather conditions overnight have assisted the firefighters. So the situation is far better than it was a few days ago. 

Here is a short video from the Dept Of Parks & Wildlife which may give you some dramatic insight. 


Below is a copy of a map from the Department of Fire & Emergency Services website. For information and updates please click here to go to their website - DFES Alerts & Warnings



A paragraph from an interesting article from The Bushfire Front

The fundamental message

Crown fires in eucalypt forest remain as unstoppable today as they have ever been.  Once a bushfire is burning through the tops of the trees and throwing a jet-stream of burning embers down-wind, there is no technology on this earth that will stop it.

Water bombers do a great job under favourable conditions, but they cannot operate under high winds, or at night or when thick smoke reduces visibility. 

During the Black Saturday fires in Victoria, water bombers and helicopters had to be grounded because of the high winds around the fires. In 1961 the towns of Dwellingup, Holyoake and Nanga Brook in Western Australia all burnt at night when water bombers, even if they been available, could not have operated.

                                                 ________________________________
  The two major highways leading from Perth to Bunbury where I live have been closed. One of these will be closed for some time as a bridge was destroyed. Luckily there is an alternative route, be-it a long deviation.

Here are some views from my house on Thursday. Yes, I could have probably driven to where I could have got some dramatic photos of the fire and smoke cloud from a safe distance, but honestly this is as close as I wanted to be, especially when burnt leaves started to fall into our yard. The bottom RH corner photo was the sky thick with smoke on Friday.



On Friday evening, with smoke still in the air we went for a walk along the river and estuary near our home. There were not many people about, there was not a breath of breeze, and the atmosphere was eerie. You can see the smoke hanging in these pictures.


By Saturday afternoon there had been a wind shift with a light westerly blowing in from the ocean and sending the fire in a more easterly direction away from farmland and population centres and into the state forest. Here the fire will be more difficult to control but at least it is going away from Harvey and the populated areas south. 

 On Sunday morning, the smoke was clearing from where we live and blowing inland. We decided to go for a walk down Cathedral Avenue along the Leschenault Estuary. This is a lovely place to walk by the water between the paperbark trees. The trees form an arch over the old road, which is now mostly a walk or bike path, hence the name "Cathedral Avenue".
The grey sky you can see here is a mixture of cloud and smoke. 



Some birds and animals along our walk. There are always heaps of kangaroos in the paddocks along here.  The pic middle left shows a big male with a joey. Sorry, the black swans pic is from a previous walk, the swans today were further away. 
These kangaroos, birds and animals are safe - unlike those in the path of the bushfire. 




I love bark textures, there are also some old olive trees from earlier settlement, and we also saw a lot of blackened gun leaves blown here from the fire. 



Lastly today, I leave you with a couple of photos from the beginning of January - a beautiful sunset over the Leschenault Estuary and playing with slow shutter speed on the beach one evening.  All I can do is be grateful, donate what I can and pray for those affected by the fire, especially those that have lost their homes. I cannot even start to imagine what they must be going through right now.  Our bushland will recover, it won't be so easy for families. 

To donate to the Lord Mayor's Distress Relief Fund please click here - AppealsWA




Thank you so much for stopping by. I value your comments and look forward to hearing from you. I will try to visit your blogs in return. Take care and have a wonderful week.

I am linking up to the link-ups below. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Mosaic Monday
Travel Photo Mondays

Lifestyle Fifty Monday Linkup 
Our World Tuesday

Through My Lens 
Image-in-ing
Wednesday Around the World at Communal Global
Worth Casing Wednesday
What's It Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday

The Weekly Postcard

You might also like -
Bushwalking at Hoffman's Mill
A walk on the Bibbulmun Track with volunteers
Paperbark Cathedral, Leschenault Estuary

 

30 comments:

  1. I understand your feelings about the fires. I feel like that through summer here, worrying about deliberately lit fires, we have a fire bug around here who hasn't been caught, on bad days I walk from one end of the house to the other watching.

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    1. I can't understand why anyone would want to deliberately light a fire. So much devastation.

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  2. Where I used to live in S. California we would have fires every summer. The smoke was hard on me. We also would get flash floods on one road out of our area. Fires are so devastating and sad as not only are people affected but also wildlife. Here in Oregon we get bad forest fires.

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  3. Great post Jill. We too have had bush fires all around the Bay, at Christmas, Although we lost over 100 houses along the Great Ocean Road, no loss of life. It seems after Black Saturday people were ready to leave rather than defend. Your burnt leaf is an evocative photo and shows how close to home these events are for you. I hope we all get rain soon and the fires are back under control in your region soon.
    Take care
    Wren x

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    1. yes we followed the Great Ocean Road fires on the TV. But having these fires "just up the road" made them a lot more real, especially when you know people in the fire affected area, or who are out fighting the fires.

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  4. It must have been very worrying for you being so close to those fierce bushfires. Thank God the worst is over. Your photos of the smoke filled skies are amazing. Glad you got out and about to take those beautiful shots of the wildlife and the paperbarks at Leschenault Estuary.The sunset and the beach shot are magnificent!

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  5. These recent fires have been horrendous and as you say we can't begin to know what those who have lost everything are going through. I can imagine how you must have felt being close to the fires, Jill. As you say though the firefighters who try to protect and save vulnerable people and properties in the face of enormous odds should be given medals. So glad you are safe, and here's hoping that the fires have been downgraded and are under control.

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  6. i grew up in southern california and wild fires happened frequently...so scary and i would always worry about the wildlife that would be affected.

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  7. Hello Jill, I can only imagine how you would feel living so close to these wildfires. My prayers go out to the firefighters and the people who died and the homeowners. I hope you remain safe from these fires. Your photos are gorgeous, I love the birds, animals and the pretty skies. Happy Monday, enjoy your new week!

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  8. Those fires look terrifying indeed! I wouldn't want to get any closer either. It's always so sad to hear of the devastation, homes lost, etc. Fire is so beautiful when it's contained and so terrifying when it's not.

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  9. Oh no, that must be really frightening. I have read some novel about the Australian bush fires where a man lost everything, his family and house, so tragic. I do hope the damages shall be as small as possible.

    Beautiful wildlife photos!

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    1. sadly most of the people in the small town of Yarloop have lost everything. So tragic.

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  10. Oh, Jill, I'm so sorry for the people and their property, for the animals and the vegetation (especially the trees) devastated. Praying for rain for you... and for warmer weather for those areas even in Europe were the freezing cold kills especially homeless people.
    Your photos are always beautiful.

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  11. The devastation of raging wildfires is one of the most serious natural things we can face! Just awful! Not only for the impact on people, but on the wildlife and the land itself! So frightening! We have such fires here in the desert areas and drought areas of the SW often, and it is always such a tragedy! Hopeful this will be contained soon.

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  12. You live in such a paradise with those skies and the nature scenes...love the animals there too! Sad you have such deadly destructive fires....they are so scary. I hope there is relief soon.

    Donna@GardensEyeView
    and LivingFromHappiness

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  13. yes bush fires can be devastating.Love all the animal shots and that beautiful sunset

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  14. All of these photos are grand, but that sunset - WOWZA!
    Thanks for sharing at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2016/01/shells-on-shells.html

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  15. Fire such a frightening thing to face...to have to watch as your home, neighborhood go up in flames, the panic, the fear, the total lack of any control over it, the devastating outcome, yes the loss of life, the loss of property, and the loss of life beyond human kind, all so very tragic. Your people, your land, has been in my heart thoughts Jill. Take care~

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  16. How tragic that every year you seem to have fires in Australia and I feel for the families who have lost everything. Breathing in the smoke even from further away must have an effect on health and it's also sad to think of all the animals.
    Keeping you in my thoughts Jill as your country experiences this disaster.

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  17. Sorry to hear about the fires in Australia but your photography of such variety is we exquisite!

    Wishing you a joyful week, ^_^

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  18. The photos of Cathedral Avenue and the sunset are gorgeous. I'm reading this on Tuesday and hope that the fire situation is much improved there. A few months ago, a fire was burning about 50 miles away, and I could smell the smoke in the air despite the distance. The same place burned badly a few years ago, and it's still strange when I drive through that town and see all the blackened, branchless tree trunks reaching up to the sky. Eerie. (Please forgive me if I have just commented multiple times. I kept hitting Publish but nothing seemed to be happening.)

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  19. Lovely shots, but so sad to hear about all the fires.

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  20. so scary! we need to have more respect for our beautiful but fragile world... I hope you are safe!

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  21. So horrible! I know that smell way to well as we had fires in the south of our state a few yeats ago.
    http://travelingbugwiththreeboys-kelleyn.blogspot.com/2016/01/baby-it-is-cold-outside.html

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  22. Your images are Gorgeous Jill. Hope you all stay safe. The weather this year has extremely different and has led to intense fear everywhere.

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  23. We have a bad fire season in California too. Hope things get better down there. Great photos as always!

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  24. It does make me feel sick to the stomach, even on the other side of the Country. Although I hear and see images on the Television, reading your post has brought it home in a more real way. I feel sorry for the people who died, there death would have been horrifying. I hope the smoke killed them before the fire got to them. I feel for the animals too, how scared they would have been. Fire is such a scary thing - so dependent on the winds and so changeable. Seeing the smoke in the sky and having the burned gum leaves landing in your yard would have been a poignant reminder of what was happening not so far away.

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  25. That's really sad to read, but I do love your wildlife images. Thanks for sharing with "Through my Lens"

    Mersad
    Mersad Donko Photography

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  26. It's heart wrenching to live in an area where wild fires destroy so much. Your photos are excellent and I did love seeing the black swans. I'm glad you included them.

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  27. I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like for the families and for you being so close by. It's heartbreaking. We hear often of fires in California with heavy losses but I've never had a first-hand account. Thanks for sharing this with us, Jill. The video is unbelievable.

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