By Mike Richardson.
Saturday, 7th February 2009 was one of the darkest days to dawn upon the whole of Australia. But mostly towards the people of Victoria, it is now known as Black Saturday. Black Saturday was a series of bushfires that ignited or were burning across Victoria during extreme bushfire-weather conditions, resulting in Australia's highest ever loss of life from a bushfire.
Majority of the fires ignited and spread on a day of some of the worst bushfire conditions ever recorded. Temperatures in the mid to high 40s with wind speeds in excess of 100 km/h, which fanned the fires over large distances and areas which created several large firestorms and pyrocumulus systems.
A pyrocumulus is literally a fire cloud, it is a dense cumuliform cloud associated with fire or volcanic activity.
A cool change hit the state in the early evening, bringing with it gale-force south-westerly wings in excess of 120 km/h.
This change in wind direction caused the long eastern flanks of the fires to become massive fire fronts that burned with incredible speed and ferocity towards towns that had earlier escaped the flames.
This picture contains not only black Saturday but other major fires in the past.
2002- Big Desert Fire
2003- Great Divide
2005- Wilson's Prom
2006-07- Victorian Alps
2009- Black Saturday
The Fires of Black Saturday destroyed over 2,029 houses, 3,500 + structures in total and damaged thousands more. Many towns north-east of the state capital Melbourne were badly damaged or almost lost altogether such as Kinglake, Marysville, Narbethong, Stathewen and Flowerdale.