Smoke on the water

Actually, smoke on and in everything.  The fires continue to burn.  Everyone and everything here in the Meander Valley, Tasmania Australia has been shrouded in smoke since Tuesday.  And it’s worse.  Thicker, smellier, nastier.

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Smoked duck and ducklings – Deloraine this morning.

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The fires burning around The Great Western Tiers are in extremely remote bushland.  They are difficult to access and therefore to fight and control.  The local firefighters as well as firefighters from other states of Australia have joined forces to try and bring them under control.  Yesterday another spot on the North West Coast had a fire emergency.  At this moment no loss of life and no loss of property has happened.  The people who live in the bushy remote areas have followed instruction and all are safe so far.

We are vigilantly watching the The Tasmanian Fire Service website.  Here in our area we’ve seen all three warnings upgraded, downgraded, upgraded again and again and again.  I’m exhausted so I can’t imagine how those closer to the fires are feeling.

Last night ash fluttered down all around us leaving a layer on everything.  It was quite frightening.  Before I went to bed I walked around the house several times to satisfy myself that it was cool ash and wasn’t a risk (and we monitored the Fire web site – nothing to worry about).

There's no filter on this photo.

There’s no filter on this photo.

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Ash on my car last night

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Smoked cows this morning

Louise related a story to me this morning.  An older gentleman from Mole Creek (just 30 minutes drive from here and much closer to the fires than we are) was talking about the last time The Great Western Tiers had experienced a fire event like now.  It was over 100 years ago.  It burned for months due to the thickness of the bush.  Of course 100 years ago they didn’t have helicopters with water bombing equipment or as many access roads.  We are all hoping for the forecasted rain early next week (anyone know the steps of the Rain Dance?).

Fires like this are not part of our normal in Tasmania.  We are all shocked by it in many ways.  Fire is part of the natural regeneration of the bush, yes, but not to this scale;  everything will grow back and renew in time.  I prefer controlled burnoffs to this.  Many environmentalists question this practice.  Many people with respiratory problems also question it.  I’d rather see controlled burns than entire forests and areas go up in smoke together with the loss of animal habitat.  I’d rather get a warning and know that for a few days it’s going to be smoky than the angst of not knowing when the fires are going to be put out and if I have to evacuate my home.  We are here to manage the land for everyone’s good (people both present and future, flora and fauna).  We need to care for it rather than lock it away and then risk it all going up in smoke due to mismanagement.  Ooops that was not about running….that was my view on land management….

But the smoke, oh the smoke.  It’s just plain nasty.  And it is travelling far.  Launceston is also shrouded in the smoke.  It’s just sitting there in the valley, all nestled in.

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This Jersey bull (all Jersey bulls are called Eric on our farm) was having a bit to say to me – I was supposed to grab that cord and re tie the gate shut as I drove out to run this morning. I didn’t. I called Pauly and he came and did it.  I’m not getting up close and personal with an Eric!

To run or not to run?  It’s the middle of summer but several outside pools closed yesterday.  Launceston parkrun has already foreshadowed that it will most likely be cancelled tomorrow due to the poor air quality.  Much discussion was had between Pauly and I at 5:45am as I prepared for the regular Friday run with Louise.  In the end I compromised.  Louise was happy to go a little later and we cut the distance down to 10kms.

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This smoke could be around for a while and we just can’t go that long without running.  And we weren’t the only ones out.  We rarely see another runner in Deloraine but we did see all the regular early morning walkers.  We did a lap of the football oval and saw a number of people with their horses who have evacuated their homes and are camping there (they are from properties with a lot of bush around them, so safer to leave).

I've watched alerts go from blue to yellow to blue to yellow and a few times to red for areas a little further away than us. Truly scary.

I’ve watched alerts go from blue to yellow to blue to yellow and a few times to red for areas a little further away than us. Truly scary.

Smoke on the water, smoke everywhere.  Hoping for a cool change and rain to douse the fires and to wash the land and the air clean.

Happy running 🙂

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The sun setting last night.

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Watching as the ash flutters down. Pauly hasn’t been at all worried. We have many irrigated paddocks to burn before a fire could get to us. But the worry for friends in the district is huge.

22 thoughts on “Smoke on the water

  1. Hi Anne-Marie, Thanks for the constant updates…it’s good to know you’re ok apart from the awful smoke and the fear for your friends and those who may be in danger. I can assure you that my two-legged Eric is quite safe to be around! But that four-legged beast could be another matter! Love and hugs, Jill

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  2. I agree with you about working with nature. If the bush burning is part of its natural life cycle it has to happen for it to thrive, so better to do it in a controlled way. At least you can war the people with the bad chests etc to stay indoors or go away for a couple of days. I hope that you get rain soon – clear the air and then you can get out for a proper run!

    • Thanks Julie, the whole land management thing is really a problem. And the problem now is that we have had the lowest spring and summer rainfall in about 70 years and too much dry fuel. Thanks for the thoughts of rain, it’s looking like a good drop is on the way mid next week. Crossing fingers and doing the rain dance here 🙂

  3. So sad about the fire and the smoke. I don’t blame you for still running – it’s in the blood and muscles and NEED to keep going. But watch the lungs! Once I was in Singapore where the smoke was so thick from the horrible rainforest burnings in islands hundreds of miles away. Anyway, I was warned by the hotel management to not run. But I did, with a bit of dread. You should have seen the looks I got. I was happy to fly out of there a few days later.

  4. Annie – our thoughts and hopes are with you – keep running when you can – AND keep Eric the bull under control if you can – I’m struggling with my Eric. Shaz’s Relics!!xxx

    • Thanks Shaz’s Relics 🙂 your thoughts and hopes are very much appreciated! Erics are rather difficult at times. We find that good electric fences and a tap with a bit of polypipe do the trick hehe xxxx

  5. I’m sorry to hear it is still a bad situation there. That 3rd photo of the yellow, smoke-filled sky is truly frightening.
    I’m hoping you receive a good amount of rain soon to help the firefighters get these fires out for good.

    • Thanks Joanne, the skies have just cleared over us – the mountains are in view and it is such an awesome sight…but there are still fires all around – we will enjoy the fresh air while we can. The time that yellowy photo was taken I was just plain frightened. My heart was up in my throat and I truly thought that things were going to get bad but so far no loss of life or property. We have a wonderful fire service. Feeling terribly humbled.

  6. Annie here in Western Canada we are used to forest fires and last summer this kind of smoke had people instructed to stay indoors due to poor air quality a lot of the time. However the ash is something we have not experienced. Hoping things are looking better by the time you read this.

    • Thanks Sue, I hadn’t thought that Canada would have forest fires but of course your beautiful country would because you have so much wilderness too. It’s strange that we are now so connected by cyber space and yet there is still so much about the world that I don’t know.

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