Australia’s worst bushfire

What was the worst bushfire in Australia?

Undoubtedly, it was the bushfires that occurred across the state of Victoria on and around Saturday, 7 February 2009. These fires became known as the Black Saturday Bushfires. 

Why is Black Saturday classed as Australia’s worst bushfire? Firstly, more than 450,000 hectares were burnt. Secondly, over 2000 homes were destroyed. Thirdly, and most importantly 173 people were killed.

How far did the Black Saturday bushfire spread?

In this paragraph, I am going to discuss how far the Black Saturday Bushfire Spread. However, it must be kept in mind that there was more than one fire burning on Black Saturday. Because of this, it would, without a doubt be misleading to provide only the size of the area burnt to describe how far the bushfires spread. Table 1 shows the area consumed by each of the major fires. Importantly, it also indicates the townships and local government jurisdictions affected. When the area burned by the 15 most dangers fires, we see that the total comes to about 450,000 hectares (1,111,974 acres).

Fire NameNearby Towns or MunicipalitiesOverall Area Burnt
Delburn Fire- Mirboo North,
- Boolarra,
- Yinnar
- Churchill.
6,534 hectares
Bunyip Fire- Labertouche
- Jindivick
- Jindivick West
- Jindivick North
- Drouin West
- Longwarry North
- Robin Hood
26,200 hectares
Kilmore East FireShires of:
- Nillumbik, Mitchell
- Yarra Ranges
- City of Whittlesea
125,383 hectares
Horsham FireAreas affected:
- Vectis to the west of Horsham
- Haven, to the south of Horsham
2,346 hectares
Coleraine FireColeraine713 hectares
Pomborneit–Weerite FirePomborneit1,008 hectares
Churchill Fire- Jeeralang North
- Balook
- Le Roy, Koornalla
- Callignee
- Callignee North
- Callignee South
- Hazelwood South
- Hazelwood North
- Traralgon South
- Devon,
- Yarram
- Carrajung South
25,861 hectares
Murrindindi fire- Marysville
- Buxton
- Narbethong
- Taggerty
168,542 hectares
Redesdale FireShires of:
- Greater Bendigo
- Mount Alexander
- Macedon Ranges
- Mitchell
7,086 hectares
Narre Warren: Harkaway
Harkaway147 hectares
Narre Warren: Lynbrook—Coral Drive
Lynbrook12 hectares
Narre Warren: Lynbrook—Golf Club Road
LynbrookNot recorded
Upper Ferntree GullyUpper Ferntree Gully
Narre Warren and Upper Ferntree Gully
- Harkaway
- Lynbrook
Harkaway: 147 hectares
Lynbrook: 12 hectares
Bendigo FireWesern Suburbs of Bendigo341 hectares
Beechworth–Mudgegonga FireBeechworth and Mudgegonga33,577 hectares

Several other fires occurred during January and February of 2009. These fires, however, were not looked at by the Bushfire Royal Commission. Table 2 summaries these fires.

IncidentStart DateTotal Area Burnt
Drummond North22.01.09300
East Tyers – Thomson07.02.091,778
Wilsons Promontory08.02.0925,200

What areas were affected by the Black Saturday bushfires?

The Bushfire Royal Commission looked at the 15 most damaging or potentially damaging bushfires that occurred on 7 February 2019.

These fires included the:

  1. Delburn Fires
  2. Bunyip Fire
  3. Kilmore East Fire 
  4. Horsham Fire
  5. Coleraine Fire
  6. Pomborneit–Weerite Fire 
  7. Churchill  Fire
  8. Murrindindi Fire
  9. Harkaway- Narre Warren
  10. Coral Drive – Narre Warren: Lynbrook
  11. Golf Club Road – Narre Warren: Lynbrook
  12. Redesdale Fire
  13. Upper Ferntree Gully
  14. Bendigo Fire
  15. Beechworth–Mudgegonga Fire

What started the Black Saturday fire?

What started these fires varied. As was stated earlier, there was more than one fire. The three main causes of the most damaging fires were reported in the 2009 Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission.

Firstly, fires caused as a direct or indirect result of human activity. Secondly, fires associated with the failure of electricity assets. Thirdly, fires were thought to be suspicious.

The breakdown of the cause can be summarised follows:

  • Nine fires were started as a direct or indirect result of human activity
  • Five fires were started by a failure of electricity assets
  • Four fires were thought to have been suspicious

What was the temperature on Black Saturday?

Victoria experienced catastrophic fire conditions on Saturday 7 February 2009. On that day Melbourne city reached a temperature of 46.6 degrees celsius, this was the highest maximum temperature recorded since records began. The highest official temperature recorded was at Hopetoun, a town located in the Southern Mallee area of Victoria,

How many people were left homeless after Black Saturday?

According to the “Community Recovery after the February 2009 Victorian Bushfires: a rapid review” over 7,000 people were left homeless.

What agencies helped with black Saturday?

Response agencies:

  • Country Fire Authority
  • Metropolitan Fire Brigade
  • Department of sustainability and environment
  • Parks Victoria

Other Agencies 

  • Department of Primary Industries
  • Energy Safe Victoria
  • Department of Planning and community development 
  • Hancock Victoria Plantations
  • Department of Human Services

How many animals died in the Black Saturday bushfires?

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) estimates that over 1 million wild and domestic animals died.

Agricultural stock losses were believed to be more than 11,800.

Specifically, this included:

  • 4,500 sheep,
  • 4000 Cattle and
  • 200 horses.

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