After weeks of scorching temperatures the ever volatile Victorian bush, with its oil-rich fuel reserves, exploded. Firestorms—literally 'storms'!—driven by already 'stormy' winds and started, occasionally, deliberately by human beings, swept across serene suburbs.
Many of its hundreds of victims either didn't even get a chance to leave, or were caught on the road and burned in their cars as they were trying to flee to safety.
Click here for an extensive image gallery of this disaster.
Australians responded spontaneously and as well as they could with donations, ranging from blood, to material goods, to monetary donations that may eventually reach the $AU 100 millon.
If you, dear reader can spare any cash at all, in whatever currency you happen to use, you can contribute on the Australian Red Cross site, using your credit card. It has been pledged that no cent of any donation made here will go to 'administration', and that everything will go directly to the victims or the rebuilding of their lives.
I don't usually do 'appeals', but this is an exception in exceptional times.
I'd also like to remind all that you don't need to be a soldier to be a professional hero. The firefighters and other Emergency Services people who are still putting their lives on the line as I write this—because the fires aren't over yet!—probably do this driven by much the same motivations that caused Trooper Donaldson to make some very serious decisions about what is important and what he needed to do.
Maybe death is not as imminent or certain for most, or nearly all, of those, battling the flames in Victoria, but these people, plus all the volunteers that are helping and putting themselves potentially similarly into harm's way, deserve our utmost respect and gratitude.