These last few days I've been thinking a lot about the disasters in Victoria, and reading the horrible stories of death and destruction. It seems people were generally doing the right thing in preparing their homes, making disaster plans etc, but the ferocity of the fire was too great for any such preparation to be effective. The day after it happened someone at work asked me whether our house is in a risk zone, and I said generally the hills around us are open and grassy so we should be OK. It's funny how sometimes you can look at something for years and not really see it. On the drive home I looked at those 'open, grassy' hills and realised they're mostly covered in dense scrub, and that the valley we live in is one mass of trees, broken only by the rooftops that now seem so tightly packed in. Suddenly it was very easy to picture a hot wind funnelled by those hills, driving a wave of fire northwards and devouring everything in its path, our house included.
So after that unpleasant realisation my wife and I decided if its a danger day she should just take the boys and go. It's just not worth the risk of staying to save a building that's insured anyway.
One of the few good things to come out of a horrible disaster like this is that it helps you remember what is truly important, and what is just the dross of life. It also reminds you as you hear countless stories of heroism and generosity that perhaps there is hope for the human-race after all.