To date there are 181 confirmed deaths and approx 7,000 people with no homes to go to. About 350,000 hectares of land are on fire. Some fires are under control, some are not.
The fire that was near Mum and Dad's, and Paula and Phil's, is no longer a problem so they are safe and well. The Valley is shrouded in smoke though, so it's not pleasant to be out and about.
The fires around Warburton are still listed as "going" - ie, not under control - and so Clare's place is still not safe to go home to. It's unlikely that her immediate area will be in any real danger but it's better to be safe than sorry. A wind change could change that situation at any time. Clare's house is not defendable so it's best that she's not there for the duration.
People I know in Kinglake, which has been all but wiped out, have lost their home but are alive and well.
The devastation is almost unbelievable. Whole towns have been destroyed, they just don't exist anymore.
God only knows what the animal, domestic and wildlife, toll is. I guess we'll never know that.
The worst aspect of all this is that some of these fires have been deliberately lit, particularly in Gippsland to the east. That is unforgivable. Totally unforgivable. I really hope the people responsible spend eternity in Hell, burning forever. It's the very least they deserve.
The positive aspect is the unconditional support the affected people are receiving from the whole Australian population. Donations are pouring in from everywhere, even from overseas. Millions of dollars have been donated already. Charities are overloaded with donations of clothing and other material goods and food.
That sort of spirit and sense of community is uplifting and gives some hope for the future.
The worst is probably over (I hope) but the bushfires continue to burn and will for some time to come. February is traditionally "bushfire season" and, with more hot weather forecast for the coming week, more fires are bound to occur. I can only hope that they do not add to the overwhelming devastation and tragedy that has engulfed Victoria in the last few days. It truly has been the most awful time.
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