The Worst Bushfires in Australian History

The Worst Bushfires in Australian History

Intense fires blazed through New South Wales yesterday in high temperatures and strong wind conditions. Thousands have been evacuated as bushfires are burning near the Blue Mountains and Heatherbrae. Firefighters from across the state are travelling to NSW to help battle against nature’s fury.

Bushfires are almost a regular occurrence during the hotter months due to Australia’s unforgiving hot, dry climate. Fires have claimed many lives, ravaged the land, destroyed properties and made many homeless. As New South Wales continue to fight against the worst bushfire emergency in recent memory, we take a look at the three most devastating bushfires to have occurred in Australian history.

Black Saturday Bushfires (Victoria 2009)

Black Saturday was one Australia’s worst natural disaster ever recorded. A series of fires that began on Saturday 7 February 2008 swept through Victoria during extreme bushfire weather conditions. The fires resulted in 173 deaths and injured 414 people. Thousands were affected. The fires destroyed over 2,030 homes and more than 3,500 structures and damaged thousands more. Many towns northeast of Melbourne were badly damaged and some were completely destroyed. 78 townships were affected and 7,562 people were displaced. 11,800 head of livestock also perished in the fires. The Bushfires Royal Commission estimated the disaster suffered a loss of $4.4billion AUD (2010 value).

Ash Wednesday Bushfires (South Australia & Victoria 1983)

The Ash Wednesday bushfires were a series of fires that tore through south-eastern Australia on 16 February, 1983. On a hot, unrelenting dry day more than 180 fires caused widespread destruction across South Australia and Victoria in just twelve hours. In Victoria, 47 people died and in South Australia, 28 died. Many of the fatalities were the result of firestorm conditions. Ash Wednesday was also one of Australia’s costliest natural disasters after Black Saturday. Over 3,700 buildings were destroyed, 2,545 homes were damaged and the loss of livestock was extremely high (approx. 358,000). The total damage caused cost both states well over $400million AUD (1983 value).

Black Tuesday Bushfires (Tasmania 1967)

The 1967 Black Tuesday fires occurred on 7 February 1967 and were the most deadly bushfires that Tasmania has ever experienced. 62 people died, 900 were injured and over 7,000 people were left homeless. The fires destroyed 2,640 square kilometres of land in Southern Tasmania within five hours. 80 bridges, 4,800 sections of power lines, 1500 vehicles and over 100 other structures were destroyed. It was estimated about 62,000 livestock were killed. The total damage amounted to $40 million AUD (1967 value).

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