Fires in Lochac Show Courage and Bring Challenges

Kiriel du Papillon writes about the wildfire situation near Canberra and reports on SCA members affected. Today was a day without shadows in Canberra. The thick smoke covered the city, making the buildings a strange orangy yellow colour and the grass and trees glow flourescent green. The sun couldn't get through strongly enough for objects to cast shadows, which was very eerie. Even in my air conditioned office building the smell of smoke pervades everything.

People were able to return to their houses, some gutted and others simply singed. 419 is the most recent count of houses lost to the fire. Ash coats everything outside, and every tv station shows the devastation that has taken place; the burnt out streets and the lost bewildered ex-residents who sift helplessly through the remainders of their homes.

Some vent their frustration at the fates by accusing, demanding answers; why wasn't their house saved? The poor exhausted and beleaguered firies and service workers don't need this, luckily the anger of those complaining is more than matched by others praising the workers' untiring efforts.

But today has also been a day of relative peace; the winds were low and the smoke kept the temperatures down a bit. The electricity, gas and water people have worked tirelessly to restore power to most of Canberra. The better conditions have also given the fire fighters much needed time to recover, and to begin the fortifications for the days to come. The sewerage system has been repaired which is great news.

It seems that the bulldozing, backburning and clearing will be put to the test tomorrow. Fires still burn along the North Western edge of Canberra, and with temperatures of 37 predicted along with winds up to 60k, we could well see a repeat of Saturday's disaster, but here in Belconnen.

We have some advantages now; we know it is coming. Residents are packing, sorting and preparing for the potential fires. I will not being going to work tomorrow, nor will most of Belconnen. Before now there has been little chance of the fires coming as far as my home, which is why I have been able to keep posting and being a contact point. I intend to continue to do this, even if evacuated; I have a friend on the safe side of town upon whose doorstep I will land if I need to. It is unlikely that I will have to evacuate, but possible.

I took the time though tonight to visit my family. It was a good thing to do. My cousin Karen was evacuated from Duffy with her new years baby in arms; Her neighbours battled the spotfires that appeared around the house but even with the house intact, she couldn't stay there without electricity or water. The presence of family was comforting to all of us; we planned and sorted together. I went and bought batteries and also disposable nappies; apparently they are the very best thing to use for blocking up downpipes.

The SCAers around Belconnen have been alerted and are prepared or preparing. I am filling my washing machine, bath, laundry sink and buckets with water as I type, and organising my possessions for a quick getaway.

It is hard to decide what I value most. My instruments first, some of my books (but most are replaceable), photographs, some of my jewellry. I should take that folder of important papers. The things that people have made for me; my scrolls. The things I inherited from my grandfather. Oh no, I cannot possibly fit the carved wooden chest that David Angelin made. The thought of it going up in flames makes me wince. I can make new costumes, but I really feel I must try to fit the pavillions in.

And where did I put that antique lace my grandmother gave me? Where are my favours from friends long gone from the SCA? What should I rescue for my absent housemate? How am I going to transport the chickens? Should I take that box of old cards, photos and letters? I will definitely leave my old diaries of years ago; there are definitely some things best left behind. It strikes me that the garbage was collected this morning so the bins are empty; two giant buckets to be filled if needed.

As I pack and organise and decide, my thoughts are with the many families who have lost everything, and with the friends of mine who have faced this danger so bravely in recent days. Chris, Joanna and Murray, Greg and Laurie, Rhys. Just a handful of the people who hosed and stomped on and beat out and poured water on the fires around Canberra, saving their homes and the homes of friends, neighbours and strangers. This is a frightening time and I hope that those of us who have yet to face this horror head on will have the same energy and determination as they. Even more, I hope that we won't have to.

To all those in other cities, thank you for your calls, your thoughts and your good wishes. The support you have been giving me personally, and the people of Politarchopolis is very much appreciated by us all. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

I will continue to keep you posted.

Kiriel du Papillon

You can still email me at and you are welcome to forward my updates to those who would like them. Up to date information on the situation can be found by clicking on the header.

Kiriel included a list of those SCA members known to be safe:

* Adair
* Adam Reeves
* Adam the Renegade
* Adele and Jason Ferrier (and family)
* Aelfled and Crispin (India and Jaysen Ollerenshaw)
* Alex and Rhonda
* Alice Balnaves Knight
* Alinta Hamilton (Darby)
* Andrew and Vonn (lost garage but nothing else)
* Andrew Hunt and Ruthie
* Artos and Libby
* Bess Haddon of York
* Beth Schoenberg and family
* Blair and Leta
* Bran of Locheil
* Brigid Costello
* Bruce and Katinka
* Bruce Probst (Will)
* Charles and Kelly Wannop
* Charles of the Park and Francesca Cellini
* Chris and Jane Tuckwell
* Chris Strusz (Sigmund)
* Cornelius and Morwenna
* Dameon Greybeard
* Damon Morrison and Kylie (Paul and Kylie Warren)
* Darren Huett
* Drake Morgan
* Fran Monahan (Juliana Richelot and family)
* Frances Polevik
* Francois and Aelfrythe
* Greg Turkich (and family)
* Greig and Jamie
* Helen and John Brinsmead (and family)
* Jamie (Rhodry)
* Jenni Daley (Gwynevar - Libby's apprentice)
* Jessica Armstrong
* Joanna and Murray Keenan (and family)
* John and Sharen Stewart (John of the Hills and Genevieve de Champs)
* Jon Price
* Karen (Kashia) and Evan
* Kate Crowle and Simon Price (Isobel and Allessandro)
* Leonie de Grey
* Maria Crowley (and family)
* Mark Bacon.
* Maxx
* Melanie Buckley
* Oonagh, Jess and Nathanial
* Pam Gregson (Emily of Dover)
* Penny and Marc Pengryffen
* Penny Cilento
* Petra Shaw
* Rachael Zvodnic
* Rachel Magrath-Kerr-Luckman
* Rachel Naughton
* Rhiannon ferch Ivor (Angela Vivian Bolt - and family)
* Rhys Howitt
* Richard and Leslie
* Rob and Natalie Aked
* Rob Giles
* Smithfield household
* Snorri
* Stephen and Mathilde (and family)
* Stuart Burns
* Sue Hryckiewicz (Selivia)
* Tom and Kelly Boulton
* Tosti
* Trevor Carter (not SCA but known to many local SCAers)
* Vicki Whitehorn (Oriel of the Gypsies)
* Victor Connor
* Ysabeau Chanteuse (Megan and Doug Jackson and family)
* Al and the kids
* Conrad and Shelby
* Sione the Shameless
* Thomasine Lestrange (Catherine Sohier)
* Gina van Acker
* Kim Huett
* Steve Daniels