Copied from the comments on the MFW page (edited for length and context) with thanks to John Irvine Bruce Walker for this must-read response.
“Hi everyone, my name is Bruce Walker. I’m one of the survivors of the Wytaliba fires of Friday 8th November 2019. I’ve been an RFS volunteer for close to 20 years, and am part of the highly regarded Wytaliba RFS – one of the most respected and hardened crews on the northern tablelands and beyond. Our crew number over 50 and include decorated vets of Ash Wednesday and many other national disaster catastrophic level fires.
Regarding hazard reduction. let me fill you in. We used to do managed hazard reduction whenever it was viable in winter. However – sadly, the moment Gina and Rupert went halves and purchased the LNP wholesale, we saw a MASSIVE increase in wholesale industrial logging across the nation.
Tell me, when you garden, do you use MULCH? Compare a mulched garden to a non-mulched garden and you’ll see a near instant difference. If you’re not schooled on how soil works, try standing all day in the sun with no hat on. What happens? That’s right, your head gets fucking hot.
That’s what’s happened to the planet. Now, as anyone who’s dabbled in, you know… physics, will spell out better than I can – an increase of just one degree is quite significant.
Another neato thing physics talks about is the water cycle. You see, part of the water cycle is this cool thing called “transpiration”. It’s part 4 of this essential way in which trees send up moisture to meet clouds, creating low pressure troughs which draw rainfall inland. In fact, it’s physically impossible to get rain on the lee side of a mountain, without trees doing this very thing. Impossible. Ask the residents of the Atacama Desert in Chile, who haven’t had rain for one THOUSAND years. Why? no fucking trees!
So anyway, back to the Greens enacting a ban on burn-offs – that time we elected them to majority government and they had the final say. When was that again? I’ll wait.
Nah. Let’s move on, since we ALL know this was never a thing . Ever.
So anyway – here in Wytaliba, we used to have an incredibly green lush valley – right up until industrial loggers finally broke into compartments to our north. Right about this time, there was a near instant and significant drop to our vital streamflow. This happened again after each and every highland logging operation – and with LNP slashing and burning every national park in sight, well… you know, let’s not go there. Climate change is a hoax, right?
So wholesale burn quotas came in with LNP too. This… well.. I just want to pause here and say “wow” because this did indeed make us say wow. In recent years, we’ve seen hazard reduction burns take place completely surrounding our once green, lush valley. So much so, that after the last July burn – of an area once supplying most of our water – well… 27 years of no burn had left a healthy and regenerating semi-arid rainforest. Now it’s simply arid nothing.
Despite this burn, and 3 more last year, we got the following result – fires flared up in this dry mulchless wasteland and burned for 6 weeks, destroying 2 more former rainforest areas, leaving them also tinder dry and unable to transpire – hasn’t actually rained a drop since then. Weird. almost like cause and effect took place.
Clouds pass over, for sure. they get rain on the tablelands even – but – as physics reminds us, when air drops it warms, expands, and rather than raining, sucks even more moisture from trees and soil.
Oh well. I mean, this is normal for Australia, isn’t it? Watching 200 year old trees slowly wither and die right in front of you. That’s normal. Happens all the time. Rivers dry up too, even though ours is home to platypi – who aren’t known for travelling much – and hasn’t dried up in probably 100,000 years minimum.
Until last summer. And it’s been bone dry since August.
This has never happened in my entire 25 or so years here. No local elders remember such a thing. Wow.
Now, we all know about the Kinglake fires and the hundreds more around the state. My crew and many other heroic RFS volunteers have been fighting them for months on end. Yet another backburn actually got lit up about a month ago, on our south side, just half an hour before high southerly winds were due. The responsible paid agency, then ran out of paid hours, packed up and left it to spot onto our property and threaten 80 homes.
We’re like the mujahideen of firefighting though, so we got it after about 10 days nonstop hectic battle.
This… brings us up to date. We’ve got bare, blacked out dust for 50km in all directions. right up to the actual eaves of half the homes here. Which is why Friday’s hell-storm caught all of us by surprise.
A mushroom cloud went up at 3pm, 20 or so km away. Within 30 minutes, high winds turned that into a 20km long front – strangely, this front was on ground burnt black as recently as 3 weeks ago – crown fires too, since every tree was literally a giant matchstick with dead leaves and nothing else. This then switched to 80km/h southerlies and rained hell on 3500 acres of already blacked out ground.
Well… you can’t say we didn’t prep or do hazard reduction redneck style, can you? Or can you?
Curiously, within 1 hour we’d lost 20 homes, a school, a fire-shed, and a concrete fucking bridge – meaning only 2 outside units even got in to help. Falling trees in the hundreds blocked the old Grafton road, so no one could even help neighbours.
By dawn, of 80 homes in our community, 52 were lost, 2 dead (one a sex party voter, the other apolitical (this one is for you, Barnaby fucking Joyce) 😉 We had many injured, thousands of local animals died, and it looks like a warzone here. Which it almost did before, except we had homes.
So, ALL you fucking armchair experts out there, tell me, how again, was this the Greens fault? Thanks. looking forward to your well thought out response.
Bruce Walker, Wytaliba RFS member and survivor. 🙊🙉🖕” Bruce Deliversrants Walker