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STUNTMAN: Jon Templeton will act as Hugh Jackman's stunt double in the film Australia. Picture: MEGAN BRAYLE


Koala Bear new symbol of
Hope- Peace- Love-Inspiration and Salvation


As the brave firefighters try to save Victoria from the worst bush fires in Victoria's history one hero emerges as a representative of 
         
                     Hope- Peace- Love-Inspiration and SalvationClick here to see the famous video of  wonerful Sam the Koala Bear who is the new symbol of Hope-Peace-Love_Inspiration and Salvation


Click here to see the video of the famous Australian hero Koala Bear that millions of people around the world are watching




Koala love story wins hearts after deadly fires
February 12, 2009

CANBERRA (Reuters) - A love story between two badly burned koalas rescued from Australia's deadliest bushfires has provided some heart-warming relief after days of devastation and the loss of over 180 lives.

The story of Sam and her new boyfriend Bob emerged after volunteer firefighter Dave Tree used a mobile phone to film the rescue of the bewildered female found cowering in a burned out forest at Mirboo North, 150 km (90 miles) southeast of Melbourne .

Photos and a video of Tree, 44, approaching Sam while talking gently to her, and feeding her water from a plastic bottle as she put her burned claw in his cold, wet hand quickly hit video sharing website YouTube (www.youtube.com/watch?v=do9AoKyjjQg), making her an Internet sensation.

But it was after reaching a wildlife shelter that Sam met and befriended Bob, who was saved by wildlife workers on Friday , two days before Sam, in Boolarra, about 180 km from Melbourne .

Tree, who has been a volunteer firefighter for 26 years, said it was extremely rare to get so close to a koala so he asked his colleague Brayden Groen, 20, to film him.

"You can how she stops and moves forward and looks at me. It was like a look saying "I can't run, I'm weak and sore, put me out of my misery,"" Tree told Reuters.

"I yelled out for some water and I sat down with her and tipped the water up. It was in my hand and she reached for the bottle then put her right claw into my left hand which was cold so it must have given her some pain relief and she just left it there. It was just amazing."

INSPIRING LOVE STORY

Sam was taken to the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter in Rawson. Her story was reminiscent of a koala named Lucky who survived the 2003 bushfires that destroyed about 500 homes and killed four people in the capital of Canberra. Lucky became a symbol of hope.

Colleen Wood from the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter that is caring for Sam and Bob said both koalas were doing well while other animals like possums, kangaroos, and wallabies were also starting to emerge from the debris.

She said Sam had suffered second degree burns to her paws and would take seven to eight months to recover while Bob had three burned paws with third degree burns and should be well enough to return to the bush in about four months.

"They keep putting their arms around each other and giving each other hugs. They really have made friends and it is quite beautiful to see after all this. It's been horrific," said Wood.

"Sam is probably aged between two to four going by her teeth and Bob is about four so they have a muchness with each other."

Wood said about 20 koalas had been brought into her shelter in recent days, several of whom had bonded as koalas are known to clump together, but none had garnered the same attention as the new Internet star Sam.

Tree, a volunteer with the Country Fire Authority Victoria, has visited Sam since her rescue and was delighted to see she had found a boyfriend in Bob.

"They've really taken a shine to each other as they are both burned and share the same burned smell," he said.

"My heart goes out to the people in these fires and this was so innocent so people have used this to distract them from all the sad stuff that has gone on. It gives people a bit of hope."

Donations for bushfire support can be made to the Country Fire Authority Victoria via their website at http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/about/supportingcfa.htm.


                        Hell on Earth

Victoria's bushfire catastrophe and


Australia's worst bushfire disaster



ABC - February 8, 2009, 11:07 pm

The death toll from horrific bushfires across Victoria this weekend has reached 96, surpassing the number of people who perished in the 1983 Ash Wednesday blazes.

More than 700 homes have been lost in what is being described as 'Hell on Earth', and it is feared the death toll will pass 100.

Former television newsreader Brian Naylor and his wife Moiree are among the victims; their house at Kinglake, north of Melbourne , was engulfed by fire yesterday.

Twenty-six fires continue to burn across Victoria; 12 of those are out of control. Authorities suspect arsonists are responsible for some fires.

The Kinglake Complex blaze continues to burn out of control and so far has burnt through more than 220,000 hectares. Communities around Glenburn, Taggerty and Rubicon are being urged to remain alert for any threats to their homes.The federal and Victorian governments have set up a Bushfire Relief Fund and $10 million in Centrelink payments for victims.

"Tonight our our resolve as Victorians is being tested," Victorian Premier John Brumby said in an address to the state.

"We know that tragically many lives have been lost ... and we have grave concerns for many more. We know that hundreds of Victorians have lost their houses. Out there it has been Hell on Earth.

"It is one of the most tragic events in Victoria's history. I am personally devastated by the tragedy. The scale of the tragedy defies comprehension.

"We all grieve with you. So many families, families like yours and mine, now have to rebuild. I can promise that we will not stop until you are safe and your lives and communities have been rebuilt."

The worst-hit areas are Kinglake, where at least 18 have died, St Andrews (12 lives lost), and Steeles Creek (seven dead).

Five people are dead in Callignee and Flowervale, three in Hazelwood, Whittlesea and Taggerty, and one in Jeeralang. More bodies have been found at Marysville, Humevale, Bendigo, Long Gully, Strathewan and Arthurs Creek.

Seventy-five people died in Victoria and New South Wales during the February 1983 Ash Wednesday fires.<h3>'Shock and desperation'</h3>

The Kinglake area has been the hardest hit in terms of both lives lost and property damaged.

Most of the residents whose homes burnt down are sheltering at the Whittlesea Emergency Relief Centre, and the ABC's Matt O'Sullivan has described the scene there this evening.

"There are people arriving on buses with literally only the clothes they stand up in, that's all they have, many who have lost friends and neighbours and loved ones and just this enormous sense of shock and desperation," he said.

"If you can imagine your street and all of your neighbours' houses and your house just gone and you're not sure if those neighbours are still there.

"There are people coming here looking for emergency accommodation, they're trying to register with the Red Cross so they can let people know they're all right, they're just looking for some support, some counselling support, anything, just the support of each other."

The reporter spoke to a schoolteacher from Kinglake who said that in the afternoon, Kinglake had not been mentioned on the radio.

"So he went for a walk up the street - there was a bit of smoke around but it didn't really smell like a fire - and he asked the firies if things were going to be all right; they said yes," Mr O'Sullivan said.

"By the time he got back down the street to his house, five minutes later, it was pitch black and five minutes later his house was in flames. He says if he was 10 minutes later he wouldn't be here today.

"So he's lost his house, his school's gone up; obviously he's very worried about the kids that attend that school."<h3>No warning</h3>

Jay Cherie from Kinglake Central said her family had no warning of what was to come.

"When the power went out I madly started to try and pack some things and in doing so it was like night-time all of a sudden. My husband came running into the house and said, 'grab the kids, grab the cat, we've got to get out'," she said.

"We got in the car and went to go down towards Yea and the flames were coming up over the paddocks towards our place and we could just only settle in the township; we knew straight away our home was gone.

"A lot of people made that same decision; there were probably about 100 cars in the same area that we were in at the time and we had gas bottles exploding around us.

"At one stage there my husband said to my children, 'get down on the floor', because we didn't know what was going to happen.

"We had fire coming in on the right-hand side of us on a paddock and we had houses to the left of us on fire; no-one knew what was going to happen.

"My little girl was saying to me, 'Mum am I going to see my friends again?', she also said to me, 'Mum am I going to live tomorrow?'."<h3>Bracing for 'bad news'</h3>

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visited bushfire ravaged regions today and warned the nation to brace itself for the likelihood of more deaths.

"We've come through bad times before and we'll come through this one," he said

"This Government will be behind these communities. I fear in the days ahead, though, the news is going to be bad and I believe the nation needs to prepare itself as the full facts become known."

Mr Rudd announced a $10-million relief fund as well as a multi-million-dollar appeal.

He said the Army and other Defence assets such as bulldozers and bedding would be available to help communities begin to rebuild in the aftermath of the destruction.<h3>Interstate support</h3>

More than 4,000 local firefighters are battling blazes across Victoria, backed up by volunteers from New South Wales, South Australia , Tasmania and the ACT.

Country Fire Authority (CFA) Deputy Chief Fire Officer Steve Warrington says the interstate reinforcements are much appreciated.

"It's interesting in this part of the world, and I'm talking about Australia, that sense of mateship and camaraderie, we all stick together," he said.

"Victoria's gone to NSW and it's great to have NSW down with us, and that goes for every state, Western Australia , Queensland, they've all rung up and offered support to us today.

"From that point of view, it's quite heartwarming that we have this sense of culture and can-do in this country."

About 250 of the extra firefighters are from NSW, with that state also sending 25 search and rescue experts, nine identification experts and five paramedics.

The Northern Territory is sending a Disaster Victim Identification team, much like the one sent to Bali after the bombings.


Australian bushfire kills 84

February 8, 2009, 11:45 pm

WANDONG, Australia (Reuters) - Australia's deadliest bushfire has killed at least 84 people, some as they fled in cars or as they huddled in houses when the inferno engulfed rural towns in the country's south east, police said on Sunday.

The fire storm tore through several small towns north of Melbourne on Saturday night destroying everything in its path. One family was forced to dive into a farm reservoir to survive while others took refuge in a community shed with firefighters standing between them and a wall of flames.

A badly burnt man in the town of Kinglake, where there were many fatalities, was kept alive for six hours by being partially submerged by friends in a pool until help arrived.

"It rained fire," said one survivor, showing his singed shirt. "We hid in the olive grove and watched our house burn."

On Sunday, the remains of charred cars littered the smouldering towns, about 80 km (50 miles) north of Melbourne . Some vehicles had crashed into each other as their drivers frantically tried to escape the fire.

"Out there it has been hell on earth," Victoria state Premier John Brumby said in a television address.

Police said the toll could continue to rise as they search the ruins of the wild fires and with 20 people with serious burns in hospital. Thousands of firefighters were still battling scores of fires in Victoria and New South Wales state on Sunday night.

"We will find more bodies as we gain access to different parts of the fire areas," Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon told a news conference.

"We have found people in cars, it looks like they have decided late to leave their premises. We have found people who have been in properties, in their paddocks. We've found others in their houses. And the sad part is that we found children."

Nixon said some of the fires may have been deliberately lit.

The previous worst bushfire tragedy was in 1983 when 75 people were killed in the "Ash Wednesday" fires.

Survivors said the Victorian inferno reached four storeys high and raced across the land like speeding trains.

"It went through like a bullet," Darren Webb-Johnson, a resident of the small rural town of Kinglake, told Sky TV.

TOWNS DESTROYED

"Hell and its fury have visited the good people of Victoria," said Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd , who announced a A$10 million (4.5 million pound) aid package. "The nation grieves with Victoria. Many good people now lie dead. Many others lie injured," said Rudd. The government also put the army on standby.

Firefighters said more than 700 homes have been destroyed in the fires across Victoria state so far this weekend, the vast majority in the worst-affected areas north of Melbourne .

Wildfires are a natural annual event in Australia, but this year a combination of scorching weather, drought and tinder-dry bush has created prime conditions for blazes to take hold. Green lawmakers have been urging stiffer climate-change policies to reduce the risk of more such summer disasters.

Dazed survivors, wrapped in blankets, wandered through twisted and charred remains on Sunday, some crying, not knowing whether friends of family had survived.

At the town of Wandong, about 50 km (30 miles) north of Melbourne , one survivor said he had found the body of a friend in the laundry of a burnt-out house.

"Another 20 seconds and we were gone. We lost our dogs. There have been a lot of dead people. My next door neighbour didn't make it," said one survivor.

(Additional reporting by Mark Bendeich and Michael Perry; Editing by Matthew Jones)


Townships under ember attack as fires rage

ABC - February 7, 2009, 4:18 pm

Embers are falling on townships which are being threatened by a fierce bushfire which is burning out of control and threatening power lines east of Melbourne .

Fires are raging across Victoria, South Australia andNew South Wales, with tens of thousands of fire fighters on stand-by across all three states.

The fire in Bunyip State Park is now within a kilometre of major transmission lines that feed power to the Victorian capital.

Victorian fire authorities say the townships of Labertouche and Labertouche North are coming under ember attack and Stuart Ord the Department of Sustainability and Environment says the fire could threaten homes.

"Those communities in particular, Labertouche, Jindivick, Neerim and Tonimbuk, would be seeing smoke at the moment coming from the fire further back," he said.

"We're expecting the temperatures to get into the mid-40s today and this afternoon, and we're expecting the wind speeds to increase, so as that happens, the speed of this fire will increase."

The Victorian Ambulance Service is evacuating people from aged care homes at Neerim and Bunyip.

Victoria's 'hottest day'

Melbourne has already recorded its hottest-ever February day, with the temperature in the city reaching 46 degrees Celsius at 2:27pm (AEDT).

The mercury reached 47.4 degrees at Avalon between Melbourne and Geelong at 2:41pm, while 46.8 degrees was recorded at Laverton.

In regional areas, it reached 46 degrees at Mildura, 46 at Yarrawonga and 45.3 at Aireys Inlet.

Residents of Kilmore East, Wandong and Clonbinane north of Melbourne are on alert, as strong northerly winds fan a fire in the area.

The fire is currently burning three kilometres east of Kilmore, near Saunders Road. The CFA says the fire is gaining strength as it heads towards pine plantations near Wandong.

The Hume Highway has been closed south of Kilmore.

ABC reporter James Bennet says residents in the area have been prepapring for the fire's arrival.

"Certainly the state here for residents is one of really realising that it is indeed time to go," he said.

"This fire is extremely close, flames are visible from the hillside and it can't be too long before the fire will be encroaching on several of these houses."

More fires in Victoria

Another fire is burning a kilometre south of Churchill in the Latrobe Valley and is throwing embers and spotfires toward Hazelwood South, Jeeralang, Jeeralang North and Balook. Concerns are also held for Traralgon South.

The CFA has told residents of numerous towns that could be threatened by bushfires to immediately enact their bushfire survival plans.

A fire burning near Coleraine, in Victoria's south-west, has crossed the Coleraine-Balmoral Road after earlier jumping the Glenelg Highway.

The fire is heading east and residents of Muntham, Coleraine and Hilgay are being warned to be on alert.

A grass fire east of Camperdown is posing a threat to homes on Scollers Road and Caters Roads, as well as the community of Swan Marsh.

The CFA says a blaze on south-east of Churchill in Gippsland could pose a threat to residents of Jerralang, Jerralang North and Jerralang Junction.

A fire is also burning on the southern outskirts of Horsham, in the state's north-west, and the CFA says people in the communities of Haven, McKenzie Creek and Wonwondah should be patrolling their homes for burning embers.

V-Line has suspended train services on the Warrnambool, Gippsland and Seymour lines because of bushfires.

For information on the Victorian fires call the *Country Fire Authority's information line on 1800 240 667*.

Power has been cut to 700 homes across suburban but authorities say they expect it to be restored within hours.

Homes in Brighton, Oakleigh, Parkdale and Templestowe are most affected, with high winds causing damage to power lines.

South Australia

SA's Country Fire Service (CFS) says a fire at Gawler River, in Adelaide's north, is threatening public safety.

The fire started near Wilkinson Road and Gawler River Road and is travelling in a south-easterly direction towards Munno Para, Kudla, Hillier and Angle Vale.

The CFS says smoke and burning embers could threaten people's safety and property.

The public is being advised not to enter the area as access is restricted.

Wind gusts of up to 90 kilometres per hour are predicted, along with temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius.

It was already 37C in Adelaide at 9:00am ACDT.

More than 10,000 firefighters and 11 water bombers are on stand-by in strategic positions around the state.

One water bomber has already been sent to help contain a forest fire at Nangwarry near Mount Gambier.

National parks at Mount Lofty and on the Fleurieu Peninsula are closed because of the bushfire threat, and Monarto Zoo is also closed.

The *SES emergency number is 132 500 and the South Australian Country Fire Service information hotline is 1300 362 361.

New South Wales

A fire in Wollemi National Park in NSW's Hunter region has been declared a bushfire emergency.

The Rural Fire Service says three fires which began in the park this morning have joined up, burning about 1,000 hectares of bushland, but it is not threatening any properties.

Forty firefighters and two aircraft have been trying to put the fire out and the emergency declaration will free up more resources.

RFS spokeswoman Rebel Talbert says there are more than 40 fires burning across the state, with particular concern about blazes in Bega Valley, Tumut and the Shoalhaven.

The RFS says a bushfire in the Bega Valley in the state's far south has crossed containment lines.

The blaze has burnt over 1,000 hectares since it began about a week ago at Jingera Rock.

While it is not currently threatening any properties residents from nearby villages including Towamba, Wyndham and Burragate have been asked to stay prepared.

A spokeswoman says water bombers have been deployed to fight the blaze.

On the central coast Lake Munmorah Park has been closed because of a fire burning there. *The New South Wales Rural Fire Service information hotline is 1800 679 737.*

A weekend-long total fire ban has been issued in Canberra.

Many of Canberra's public parks have been closed as a precaution, with gas bottles turned off at public barbeques.

A number of roads in the Namadgi National Park have been closed, while Googong Foreshores will also be closed.




Map
1000 mi
2000 km
Map Kingslake about 150 Kilometeres notth East of Melbourne, Victoria, where some of the worst fire damage has been happened.
Vicoria is in the bottom South East Section of Australia.






Satellite
2 mi
5 km

Rudd under fire a year after apology to Aborigines

 

SYDNEY (AFP) - A year after making a historic apology to Aboriginal people for centuries of injustice, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd came under fire Friday for failing to improve their lives.

 

February 13, 2009, 9:40 pm

  • Victoria on alert for more fires

     

    Authorities say the threat of new bushfires in Victoria remains high, despite the mild conditions and light winds that continue to assist fire fighters.

     

    February 13, 2009, 9:01 pm
  • Lightning poses threat to Beechworth blaze

     

    Rain has brought relief to crews working on the fire near the Victorian town of Beechworth, but lightning strikes continue to pose a threat.

     

    February 13, 2009, 8:42 pm
  • Man faces court over Churchill bushfire

     

    A man has been charged over starting the deadly Churchill bushfire in Gippsland, which killed 21 people.

     

    February 13, 2009, 8:09 pm
  • Retired judge to head bushfires Royal Commission

     

    Retired Supreme Court judge Bernard Teague will lead the Royal Commission into last weekend's devastating bushfires in Victoria.

     

    February 13, 2009, 8:08 pm
  • Murray River communities wait for trickle-down effect

     

    Communities along the Murray River in South Australia are hoping water will begin to flow as freely as money following the passing of the Federal Government's economic stimulus package.

     

    February 13, 2009, 7:40 pm
  • Pope prays for bushfire victims

     

    Pope Benedict XVI says his prayers are with Australia and families mourning loved ones lost in the bushfires.

     

    February 13, 2009, 7:06 pm
  • GG continues disaster tour in North Qld

     

    A day after comforting victims of the Victorian bushfires, Governor-General Quentin Bryce has flown to north Queensland to comfort flood victims.

     

    February 13, 2009, 6:36 pm
  • Australian man charged over deadly bushfires

     

    STEELS CREEK, Australia (Reuters) - Australian police charged a man with "arson causing death" Friday over one of the country's deadly bushfires, which killed 181 people.

     

    February 13, 2009, 5:51 pm
  • Prince Charles 'horrified' by Vic fires

     

    Prince Charles has expressed his horror at the devastation caused by the Victorian bushfires and offered his sympathies to all those affected.

     

    February 13, 2009, 5:41 pm
  • Justice Teague to head bushfires inquiry

     

    Former Supreme Court Justice Bernard Teague will chair a Royal Commission into Victoria's bushfires, Premier John Brumby said.

     

    February 13, 2009, 5:35 pm
  • Australian man charged over deadly bushfires: report

     

    SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian police charged a man with "arson causing death" Friday over one of the country's deadly bushfires, local media reported.

     

    February 13, 2009, 4:26 pm
  • Bushfires upsetting Britons, Blair says

     

    Britons have been touched by the Victorian bushfires, offering messages of sympathy and support to the victims, former British prime minister Tony Blair says.

     

    February 13, 2009, 3:42 pm
  • More than 1,800 homes destroyed in Vic bushfires

     

    There has been a significant increase in the number of homes destroyed in Victoria's bushfires, rising to 1,830 after more ground and aerial resources were used to check the damage.

     

    February 13, 2009, 3:08 pm
  • Bushfire warning system 'has problems'

     

    The federal government wants an early warning system for bushfires but must overcome communications difficulties first, senior MP Anthony Albanese says.

     

    February 13, 2009, 2:32 pm
  • Vic bushfires destroyed 1,831 homes

     

    More than 7,000 displaced people will have to be accommodated after a new assessment showed almost 2,000 homes were lost in Victoria's bushfires.

     

    February 13, 2009, 2:08 pm
  • Australian man believed arrested over deadly bushfires

     

    SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian police said they were questioning a man on Friday over the nation's deadly bushfires, which killed 181 people, but local media said he had been arrested and was expected to be charged with arson causing death.

     

    February 13, 2009, 2:01 pm
  • Churchill arson suspect expected to be charged

     

    A man being questioned over the Churchill-Jeerelang bushfires in eastern Victoria is expected to be charged.

     

    February 13, 2009, 1:50 pm
  • Australian man arrested over deadly bushfires: report

     

    SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian police were questioning a man on Friday over one of the country's deadly bushfires, which killed 181 people, and local media said he was expected to be charged with arson causing death.

     

    February 13, 2009, 1:36 pm

Scores of people have died in Australia's worst ever bushfire disaster. More than 1,000 homes have been destroyed.

Information hotline: 1800 240 667

Find out how to donate to the bushfires appeal

Photo gallery 1 from the devastating scenes

Photo gallery 2 from the fires

Photo gallery 3 from the fires

Photo gallery 4 from the fires

Videos and message boards

Add your messages of hope for the victims

How to help animals affected by the fires

Watch extra news coverage from Victoria on Channel Seven over the weekend, at 1130am on Saturday and 430pm on Sunday.


Tragic weekend, troops on the way: Brumby

ABC - February 8, 2009, 10:54 am

n emotional Victorian Premier John Brumby says the state has been devastated by the bushfires that raced across the state in severe weather conditions yesterday.

Twenty-six people are confirmed to have died in fires north of Melbourne and this morning there are unconfirmed reports of bodies being found in cars overtaken by the fires in Gippsland in the state's east.

This morning Mr Brumby struggled to control his emotions when asked about the numbers of people dead and injured in the fires.

Speaking to reporters at Kinglake, he paused and nearly broke down before composing himself and continuing on.

He said he had accepted Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's offer of assistance from the Australian Defence Force, saying 26 fires were still burning and up to a dozen of them are still very serious.

"Every effort is being thrown at the fires," he said.

"This is not over yet. Tragically I think there will be more bad news.

"It's a tragic day, a tragic weekend in our history. The impacts on families are just devastating - I feel devastated."

Mr Brumby spent last night in the central Victorian town of Bendigo, where he witnessed a massive effort to save the town.

The fire destroyed more than 50 properties there and he confirmed there were casualties, but did not provide details.

The Bendigo fire was started by spotting from a nearby blaze at 2:30pm (AEDT) yesterday and by 5:00pm it was destroying property two kilometres from the CBD.

Mr Brumby said the immediate task today is supporting families and communities and called on people to donate blood to help in the relief effort.

"Obviously supporting families and communities is absolutely crucial," he said.

"What occurred yesterday, I've never seen anything like it.

"I think the big thing today is to not just to get on top of the fires that are remaining, but to make sure the message is clear that this is not over."

Mr Brumby is getting advice today on whether or not to ask the Prime Minister to send in the army to help in the firefighting effort.


Victorian bushfire. Photo: AAP Image.

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CFA
13 15 99- Fire Restrictions
03 9262 8444 - General Inquiries

firestorm

- In January Age journalist Seamus Bradley and photographer Simon O'Dwyer spent three weeks chasing the firestorm.
View their story

LINKS
Country Fire Authority
CSIRO satellite fire map
Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services
Victorian Urban Fire Brigades' Association
Victorian Rural Fire Brigades' Association
Australasian Fire Authorities Council
Victorian state emergency services
Emergency Management Australia
Victorian bushfire statistics
What Causes Bushfires on Public Land?
Bureau of Meteorology

Bright Fires
Omeo Fires
Beechworth Fires
Fire in the Victorian Alps
Smoke haze over Victoria
Canberra burns
The Big Desert fire



CFA
13 15 99- Fire Restrictions
03 9262 8444 - General Inquiries

firestorm

- In January Age journalist Seamus Bradley and photographer Simon O'Dwyer spent three weeks chasing the firestorm.
View their story

LINKS
Country Fire Authority
CSIRO satellite fire map
Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services
Victorian Urban Fire Brigades' Association
Victorian Rural Fire Brigades' Association
Australasian Fire Authorities Council
Victorian state emergency services
Emergency Management Australia
Victorian bushfire statistics
What Causes Bushfires on Public Land?
Bureau of Meteorology

MEDIA
Bright Fires
Omeo Fires
Beechworth Fires
Fire in the Victorian Alps
Smoke haze over Victoria
Canberra burns
The Big Desert fire

FEATURES
Mount Stromlo to rise from ashes
The blame game behind bushfires
Veteran closes gap in town's line of defence

BUSHFIRE SURVIVAL GUIDE

Bushfires in Victoria:
Approximately 600 bushfires occur within Victorian parks and forests (public land) each year. Between 20-30% of all bushfires on public land are started by lightning. All other bushfires on public land are started as a result of human activity.

10 Things everyone should know about bushfire safety:

1. Cover up.
Radiant heat kills. Every summer people try to survive bushfires wearing light summer dresses, shorts, singlets, even swimsuits. The real risks of bushfire are heat stroke, exhaustion and dehydration. Dress to protect yourself.

2. Stay or go?
The most important thing to decide is whether you plan to stay at home on days of extreme fire danger. If you choose to leave, you should do so early in the day, even before there is a fire in the area.

3. Late evacuation can be deadly.
Once a fire has started nearby, trying to evacuate is not an option. Most bushfire deaths involve people caught in cars or on foot. Once the fire is close, visibility will be very poor and travel becomes hazardous.

4. Have a bushfire survival plan.
The needs of every household and family are different. If you plan ahead, you will be less at risk. Your local fire brigade can help you develop a detailed survival plan.

5. Be alert.
Watch and listen. The announcement of a Total Fire Ban in your area will be the trigger to implement your plan of action. Listen for the weather forecast. Observe the local signs around you. Look and smell for smoke. Listen for sirens and fire activity.

6. Houses do not explode.
Many people believe homes go up in a "fireball" during a bush-fire. A well-prepared house provides sanctuary from radiant heat as the bushfire front passes. Most homes burn down long after the main fire has passed.

7. You may receive little, if any, warning.
Bushfires can spread with such speed that effective warning is often impossible. You cannot rely on the emergency services to advise you of an imminent threat.

8. Most homes burn down as a result of "ember attack".
Burning embers start small outbreaks on and around homes that can be put out easily if caught early. If no one is there the fire can grow and eventually destroy a home.

9. Be self reliant.
If you plan to stay at home have some basic fire fighting equipment and an independent water supply. Do not rely on the mains water supply. A dam, tank or swimming pool, even a 200-litre drum or a bath may make the difference between putting out spot fires and losing your home.

10. Clean up now.
Reducing the fuel around your home will lessen the chances of a fire taking hold on your property. Remove fine fuels and bush litter, remove hazards and rubbish.



.
Australian wildfires kill 84, floods bring crocs to town
February 9, 2009, 12:19 am

KINGLAKE, Australia (AFP) - At least 84 people were killed and entire towns razed in the worst wildfire disaster in Australian history, described by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd Sunday as "hell in all its fury".

People died in their cars as they attempted to escape the inferno -- smouldering wrecks on roads outside this town told a tale of horror -- while others were burnt to death in their homes.

While the deadly fires and a heatwave raged in southeast Australia, floods from torrential rains claimed lives in the north, with one victim a five-year-old boy feared snatched by a crocodile as he walked his dog.

The toll from the fire look,ed set to rise as medics treated badly burned survivors and emergency crews made it through to more than 700 houses destroyed by the fires, some of which have been blamed on arsonists.

Thousands of survivors jammed community halls, schools and other makeshift accommodation as troops and firefighters battled to control huge blazes fed by tinder-box conditions after a once-in-a-century heatwave.

Twenty-six fires were still burning in Victoria Sunday, with another 53 blazing throughout neighbouring New South Wales.

The devastating fires have affected around 3,000 square kilometres (1,200 square miles) -- an area larger than Luxembourg or nearly three times the size of Hong Kong .

"Hell in all its fury has visited the good people of Victoria in the last 24 hours. Many good people lie dead, many injured," Rudd told reporters, deploying army units to help 3,000 firefighters battling the flames.

The number of dead rose steadily throughout Sunday as rescue crews reached townships that bore the brunt of the most intense firestorm northwest of Melbourne , which likened to a nuclear bomb.

The previous highest death toll in Australian wildfires was 75 people killed in Victoria and neighbouring South Australia in 1983 on what became known as Ash Wednesday.

The latest fires in Australia's southeast flared on Saturday, fanned by high winds after a heatwave sent temperatures soaring to 46 C (115 F), and continued to burn out of control Sunday.

They wiped out the pretty resort village of Marysville and largely destroyed the town of Kinglake, north of Melbourne , with houses, shops, petrol stations and schools razed to the ground.

Marie Jones said she was staying at a friend's house in Kinglake, where at least 18 people perished, when a badly burnt man arrived with his infant daughter saying his wife and other child had been killed.

"He was so badly burnt," she told the Melbourne Age's website.

"He had skin hanging off him everywhere and his little girl was burnt, but not as badly as her dad, and he just came down and he said 'Look, I've lost my wife, I've lost my other kid, I just need you to save (my daughter).'"

An AFP photographer who made it into Kinglake described a road strewn with wrecked cars telling of desperate, failed attempts to escape.

The cars appeared to have crashed into each other or into trees as towering flames put an end to their desperate flight from the town.

Some did not even make it onto the road, said Victoria Harvey, a resident waiting at a roadblock to be allowed to return to the site of her destroyed home.

She told reporters of a local businessman who lost two of his children as the family tried to flee.

"He apparently went to put his kids in the car, put them in, turned around to go grab something from the house, then his car was on fire with his kids in it and they burnt," she said.

In Kinglake scores of homes were levelled along with shops and the school. The smouldering ruins of the town were deserted except for police and forensic experts.

Police Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe said there was no doubt that were behind some of the fires.

"Some of these fires have started in localities that could only be by hand, it could not be natural causes," he said.

Police have warned that arsonists could face murder charges.

The government's Australian Institute of Criminology released a report last week which said half the nation's 20,000 to 30,000 bushfires each year are deliberate.

Meanwhile in Queensland in the northeast of the country, where some towns have been inundated for a week by cyclonic rains, two people were missing after their car was swept away -- and a crocodile is believed to have taken a boy.

"The boy was walking with his seven-year-old brother earlier this morning when he followed his dog into floodwaters," police said in a statement.

"He disappeared in the water and his brother saw a large crocodile in the vicinity of his disappearance."

Much of the state has been declared a disaster zone, with an area of more than a million square kilometres (386,100 square miles) and 3,000 homes affected by floods.


Above:
1. Out of control-
February 9, 2009, 1:34 am, Bushfires rage through the Victorian countryside.
Photo by AAP Image/Andrew Brownbill
2. No relief in sight, A volunteer takes a much needed rest.
Febrary 9, 2009, 1:34 am, Photo by AFP Photo/William West 

  
Above:
1. Fatigue sets in, A volunteer contemplates the tragic scenes,
February 9, 2009, 1:34 am, Photo by AFP Photo/William West

2. Help from above, A fire-fighting helicopter dumps a load of water on a house under threat.
Febrary 9, 2009, 1:34 am, Photo by AFP Photo/William West
 

 


Above:
1. Moving on, Volunteers prepare to move to save another house.
February 9, 2009, 1:34 am, Photo by AFP Photo/William West 
2.Blinding haze, Febrary 9, 2009, 1:34 am, Smoke fills the air as fires encroach on another property. Photo by AAP Image/Andrew Brownbill


Above:
1. Desperate times...February 9, 2009, 1:34 am , A Country Fire Authority (CFA) firefighter prepares equipment -
 
Photo by AAP Image/Andrew Brownbill
2. Ominous signs, Smoke rises from Bunyip State Forest bushfires near the township of Tonimbuk. 
Febrary 9, 2009, 1:34 am, Photo by AAP Image/Andrew Brownbill



Above:
1. Hell on earth, A bushfire engulfs the Bunyip State Forest. February 9, 2009, 1:34 am-
Photo by AAP Image/Andrew Brownbill
2. Damages mount, One of the many vehicles destroyed in the fires.
Febrary 9, 2009, 1:34 am, Photo by AFP Photo/William West 


Above:
1. Dwarfed by smoke, February 9, 2009, 1:34 am- Smoke and flames rise over Bunyip State Forest.
Photo by AAP Image/Andrew Brownbill
2. Tireless crusaders, Volunteers pack away their hose as a barn burns in the background after they managed to save a house close to Labertouche.
Febrary 9, 2009, 1:34 am, Photo by AFP Photo/William West 


Above:
1. Deadly battle, A CFA fire truck is dwarfed by flames. February 9, 2009, 1:34 am,
Photo by AAP Image/Andrew Brownbill

2.Towering inferno, Bushfire flames shoot up over trees. February 9, 2009, 1:34 am, 
Photo by AAP Image/Simon Mossman


Above:
1. Dangerously close, February 9, 2009, 1:34 am,  CFA staff monitor a giant fire raging in the Bunyip State Park near Labertouche, some 125 kilometres west of Melbourne.Photo by AAP Image/Andrew Brownbill
2. Under the red sun, The sun glows red as smoke covers the sky during a bushfire at Bunyip State Forest., February 9, 2009, 1:34 am,, oto by AAP Image/Andrew Brownbill
 
  


Australia's deadliest bushfire kills 84
February 8, 2009, 11:45 pm

WANDONG, Australia (Reuters) - Australia's deadliest bushfire has killed at least 84 people, some as they fled in cars or as they huddled in houses when the inferno engulfed rural towns in the country's south east, police said on Sunday.

The fire storm tore through several small towns north of Melbourne on Saturday night destroying everything in its path. One family was forced to dive into a farm reservoir to survive while others took refuge in a community shed with firefighters standing between them and a wall of flames.

A badly burned man in the town of Kinglake, where there were many fatalities, was kept alive for six hours by being partially submerged by friends in a pool until help arrived.

"It rained fire," said one survivor, showing his singed shirt. "We hid in the olive grove and watched our house burn."

On Sunday, the remains of charred cars littered the smoldering towns, about 80 km (50 miles) north of Melbourne . Some vehicles had crashed into each other as their drivers frantically tried to escape the fire.

"Out there it has been hell on earth," Victoria state Premier John Brumby said in a television address.

Police said the toll could continue to rise as they search the ruins of the wild fires and with 20 people with serious burns in hospital. Thousands of firefighters were still battling scores of fires in Victoria and New South Wales state on Sunday night.

"We will find more bodies as we gain access to different parts of the fire areas," Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon told a news conference.

"We have found people in cars, it looks like they have decided late to leave their premises. We have found people who have been in properties, in their paddocks. We've found others in their houses. And the sad part is that we found children."

Nixon said some of the fires may have been deliberately lit.

The previous worst bushfire tragedy was in 1983 when 75 people were killed in the "Ash Wednesday" fires.

Survivors said the Victorian inferno reached four storeys high and raced across the land like speeding trains.

"It went through like a bullet," Darren Webb-Johnson, a resident of the small rural town of Kinglake, told Sky TV.

TOWNS DESTROYED

"Hell and its fury have visited the good people of Victoria," said Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd , who announced a A$10 million aid package. "The nation grieves with Victoria. Many good people now lie dead. Many others lie injured," said Rudd. The government also put the army on standby.

Firefighters said more than 700 homes have been destroyed in the fires across Victoria state so far this weekend, the vast majority in the worst-affected areas north of Melbourne .

Wildfires are a natural annual event in Australia, but this year a combination of scorching weather, drought and tinder-dry bush has created prime conditions for blazes to take hold. Green lawmakers have been urging stiffer climate-change policies to reduce the risk of more such summer disasters.

Dazed survivors, wrapped in blankets, wandered through twisted and charred remains on Sunday, some crying, not knowing whether friends of family had survived.

At the town of Wandong, about 50 km (30 miles) north of Melbourne , one survivor said he had found the body of a friend in the laundry of a burned-out house.

"Another 20 seconds and we were gone. We lost our dogs. There have been a lot of dead people. My next door neighbor didn't make it," said one survivor.

(Additional reporting by Mark Bendeich and Michael Perry; Editing by Matthew Jones)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Sunday, March 23, 2003
Inquiry takes on lessons of fires

Fuel reduction, staff levels, logistics, training and damage compensation are expected to be the focus of the State Government bushfire inquiry. more



Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Wind fans fires in Victoria

Strong winds hampered fire crews battling three blazes across Victoria today. more


Saturday, March 15, 2003
Fire probe to consider CFA pay

A State Government inquiry into Victoria's worst bushfires in 20 years will assess whether Country Fire Authority volunteers and their employers should be compensated financially. more


Wednesday, March 12, 2003
Parks Victoria calls the cattle home early

Parks Victoria wants mountain cattlemen to remove livestock early from the high plains to reduce erosion and other degradation following the bushfires. more


Tuesday, March 11, 2003
Federal inquiry planned into bushfires

An inquiry will be held into the bushfires that devastated parts of Australia last summer. A spokesman for Prime Minister John Howard said an announcement would be made shortly. more


Sunday, March 9, 2003
The ash gives way to green

From the ground, the areas surrounding Omeo that were devastated by fires that swept through about a month ago seem to be recovering. more


Friday, February 28, 2003
Cruel irony claims firefighter

A firefighter who had spent weeks battling the state's worst bushfires in more than 60 years has lost her life in a flash flood. more


Monday, February 24, 2003
Timber removal sparks inquiry

The State Government has begun inquiring into allegations that loggers took timber illegally from a firebreak cut along the edge of the Snowy River National Park when the bushfires were at their worst. more


Sunday, February 23, 2003
Fires: State's $60m bill

The cost of fighting the worst Victorian bushfires in 20 years has been $2 million a day, with the running total of at least $60 million set to put further pressure on an already tight May state budget. more


Saturday, February 22, 2003
After the inferno, hope, kindness, and red tape

For two long weeks the tiny community of Wulgulmerang waited for "the dragon". And now, after the inferno, the waiting goes on; for a ministerial visit to hear their plight, and lastly for the big dry to break. more


Thursday, February 20, 2003
Push for inquiry into bushfires

The Bracks Government is under pressure to establish an independent inquiry into Victoria's bushfire crisis amid claims that poor public land management contributed to recent blazes. more


Wednesday, February 19, 2003
Fire crews still battling blazes in Victoria

Fire crews continue to battle Victoria's bushfires, with the vast southern edge of the blazes still burning. more


Tuesday, February 18, 2003
$1.2 million pledge for fire victims

The State Government has pledged $1.2 million to help rebuild bushfire-ravaged communities in the state's north-east. more


Sunday, February 16, 2003
Scorched north-east reopens for pleasure

North-eastern Victoria is getting back on its feet as tourist attractions reopen after more than a month of fires, but firefighters say the danger further south is not yet over. more


Saturday, February 8, 2003
Rescuers struggle to save animal victims of fires

Experts believe 90 per cent of native creatures caught and affected by the fire may have died or will be put down. more


Thursday, February 6, 2003
Firefighters battle Colac blaze

Victorian firefighters were battling an 80-hectare bushfire near Colac in the state's south-west last night, as the fire threat in the north-east eased. more


Wednesday, February 5, 2003
Woman loses two homes in two weeks

A Victorian woman last night lost a second property in as many weeks to bushfires raging in Victoria and NSW. more


Tuesday, February 4, 2003
Coastal towns warned to prepare for the worst

Towns as far south as Bemm River on the Gippsland coast are being warned they could come under threat from the Victorian fires, with the danger expected to intensify in the next 48 hours. more


Sunday, February 2, 2003
Razing heaven

It could have been so much worse. Meaning, no one died. But some lost their homes. Tom Noble was one of them. more


Saturday, February 1, 2003
Six motives for starting a bushfire

The psychology of firebugs varies immensely, according to Richard Kocsis, a Sydney forensic psychologist who has published several papers on arsonists. more


Friday, January 31, 2003
Summer of fire forces questions for all

Australia's fiery summer has left a nationwide trail of devastation unparalleled in recent memory. From the most picturesque and forested country of north east Victoria, to dry plains, Australia has burned for what seems like three months without end. more


Thursday, January 30, 2003
Tomorrow could be the worst bushfire day yet

Gale-force winds overnight were expected to herald the worst day yet on the massive southern front of bushfires burning in Victoria's north-east. more


Wednesday, January 29, 2003
A village breathes again

It will be a long while before Rock De Marchi will be buying his own drinks at the pub. more


Tuesday, January 28, 2003
CFA calls total fire ban for state

A total fire ban has been declared for tomorrow across the state of Victoria, with temperatures expected to top 40 degrees in much of the state. more


Monday, January 27, 2003
No end in sight for Victorian bushfires

The bushfire crisis in north-eastern Victoria could continue for several more weeks, authorities warned today, as firefighters and residents recovered from the Australia Day onslaught. more


Sunday, January 26, 2003
Terrifying ordeal, then lucky escape

But upon reaching the settlement of just 20 houses up a dirt track, the strike team realised that fire had closed in behind them. more


Saturday, January 25, 2003
Canberra remains in a state of emergency

The national capital will remain in a state of emergency until at least Monday as strong winds and high temperatures threaten another fire onslaught. more


Friday, January 24, 2003
Weekend weather won't help fire efforts

Firefighters battling massive fires in northeast Victoria cannot look to this weekend's weather forecast for any respite from their troubles. more


Thursday, January 23, 2003
Residents flee massive alpine fire

The Victorian alpine community of Bright was under renewed threat last night after a massive fire jumped a containment line and advanced to within 500 metres of the town. more


Wednesday, January 22, 2003
Fires may have been deliberately lit

Fires which destroyed four houses in Victoria's north-east overnight, and continue to rage out of control, are believed to have been deliberately lit. more


Tuesday, January 21, 2003
Firefighters make the most of milder conditions

Firefighters battling bushfires raging in Victoria's north-east are taking advantage of a lull in the weather, with more extreme conditions forecast for the weekend. more


Monday, January 20, 2003
Stanhope says blame me for fires

ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope today called for critics to blame him, and not emergency services workers, for the destruction caused by fires which swept through Canberra at the weekend. more


Sunday, January 19, 2003
Survival the aim as a monster came to prey

Veteran firefighters had never seen anything like the fire that raced into Canberra's bush suburbs on Saturday, writes Brendan Nicholsonmore


Saturday, January 18, 2003
One dead, 100 homes lost in Canberra fires

One man has died, up to 100 homes have been destroyed in the nation's capital and hundreds of people have been evacuated from resorts in the Snowy Mountains as bushfires razed vast tracts of Australia's south-east today. more


Friday, January 17, 2003
East Gippsland fire contained

Victorian firefighters have controlled a blaze started by lightning in the alpine zone of East Gippsland overnight. more


Thursday, January 16, 2003
30,000 hectares of Victorian bushland burning

Almost 30,000 hectares of Victorian bushland is on fire with blazes expected to continue spreading as the weather heats up again tomorrow. more


Wednesday, January 15, 2003
No sweat, it's fighting fires from a distance

In the fire-fighting business, this is the clean work. Little sweat and no black stuff - unless you count the coffee. more


Tuesday, January 14, 2003
Close call at Frankston as bushfire menaces homes

A fire at Frankston South came within 100 metres of houses yesterday as more than 1000 firefighters across the state battled 37 outbreaks. more


Monday, January 13, 2003
Frankston grassfire threatens homes

Homes are being threatened by a grass fire burning near Frankston, in Melbourne's south-eastern suburbs. more


Sunday, January 12, 2003
Hikers told to keep out of parks as heat rises

Firefighters across the state are preparing for several days of heightened fire risk and warning holiday-makers to avoid many park areas as temperatures rise into the 30s and winds shift to the north. more


Friday, January 10, 2003
More than 20 bushfires still out of control

Hot weather over the coming weekend is expected to fan more than 20 bush, grass and scrub fires still burning in parks and farmland in Victoria's east. more


Thursday, January 9, 2003
Fire destroys Gippsland gun club

A Gippsland gun club was today destroyed by bushfires raging out of control in Victoria's south-east and north-east. more


Wednesday, January 8, 2003
Three fires in Gippsland national park

Country firefighters quickly contained a grass and scrub fire near Melbourne today as three other blazes broke out in East Gippsland. more


Tuesday, January 7, 2003
Searing sun brings first fire ban

Today has been declared a day of total fire ban, the first to apply to the whole of Victoria this summer. more


Mount Stromlo site controller Gary Thompson assesses the damage to the observatory

Picture: ANDREW TAYLOR
Mount Stromlo site controller Gary Thompson assesses the damage to the observatory after the Canberra fires.


Mount Stromlo to rise from ashes

February 1 2003

Scientists are divided over the future of the observatory lost in the Canberra fires. Stephen Cauchi reports.

Where to now for the Mount Stromlo observatory? Workman are trying to salvage what they can from the blackened and charred ruins of the 73-year-old observatory, with the aim of reopening workshops there within a year. As they do, officials at the observatory's operator, the Australian National University, are puzzling over how and what to rebuild. Others question whether the observatory, whose location near the night-time lights of a major city is less than ideal, should return to its status as the country's major observatory behind Siding Springs.

The ANU insists the reconstruction of the observatory is on track. According to a statement this week, it "was, is and will continue to be an icon of scientific research and education". Furthermore, the Mount Stromlo redevelopment fund had received "hundreds of donations and inquiries from around the world", including money and offers of telescopes.

Only the visitors' centre, and two buildings which housed academic staff and computing resources were spared from the recent fires that swept through Canberra. Damage to the observatory is estimated at between $20-50 million, not including irreplaceable historical items such as the 19th century Great Melbourne Telescope.

Eight houses and all five telescopes were destroyed. The 1924 heritage building, accommodating administration staff, the design office, and the library, were gutted, as was the workshop where a multi-million-dollar spectrograph was entering final testing.

On the other hand, nearly all scientific data has survived, as have instrument plans for another major project being designed for the overseas Gemini telescope.
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As the clean-up and restoration continues, staff and students are using offices, temporary workshops and computers on ANU's main campus.

Mount Stromlo director Penny Sackett said some staff are expected to return to Mount Stromlo in the next week, provided that refurbishment and communication connections go to plan. Replacing the workshops, which were destroyed, is another matter.

"It's our goal to get them back on site as soon as we are able to (but) it's not clear whether we would be able to put a temporary structure on the mountain," she said.

For the time being, research will have to proceed using other telescopes. For various reasons, including light pollution, this was already the case for some of the observatory's projects. The country's premier optical telescopes at Siding Springs will be used and time booked on the Hubble Space Telescope.

"We will sorely miss the workshop telescopes, but it's not as if we depended totally on them," she said. This raises the vexed question of what telescopes should return to the site. When telescopes first moved to Mount Stromlo in 1910, and the observatory opened 14 years later, most of Canberra had not been built. Today, the national capital creates light pollution problems for the observatory.

"You couldn't justify a big telescope there, not at Mount Stromlo," said Associate Professor Michael Ashley from the department of astrophysics at the University of New South Wales. "(Stromlo) just isn't a great site because of the light pollution."

However Professor Ashley said some type of telescope - perhaps with a one-metre mirror - would be needed on the mountain for several reasons. (The main telescopes had 1.3 and 1.9-metre mirrors).

For starters, the site is close to the ANU campus. Secondly, using telescopes hundreds of kilometres from their operators is not ideal. "The danger is the observer doesn't get familiar with the telescope," Professor Ashley said. "On site you can see if the motor's fallen out or some other obvious problem."

And despite the pollution, Professor Ashley said the observatory still had a huge global impact. "The telescope was just about to embark on a project to map the southern sky."


In this section

In this war you pray for a truce

The gods of very, very small things

How to read Iraq

In the beginning was the word

'We'd just like to know what happened'

While you were sleeping, a PC may have found ET

Grandmothers, unite! You have nothing to lose but backache

The last stand of a lost forest

Gorgeous Georges: one man's glass act

Will power

Grin and bare it

Astro Boy a birthday star

Only the lonely

Making movies is conformity or death


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