Not to go all dramatic on you or anything but I’ve been following the story on the bushfire in southwestern Australia and am absolutely too horrified for words.

One of my favorite bloggers, Magneto Bold Too, is right smack on the edge of this disaster feeling the heat, breathing the ash and watching her friends and relatives lose their homes, or worse – their lives, in the flames. Needless to say, she’s not in a lighthearted mood these days. I have no idea what to say to her to try to alleviate some of her pain. I don’t think there is anything I can say other than “hang in there” and “don’t take any foolish risks.”

After living in Los Angeles for 25 years, summer/fall brushfires became a way of life for me, and stories of lost homes and animals – pets, livestock and wild – were an annual occurrence. Fire was laughingly called one of the four Southern California seasons (fire, earthquake, Santa Ana* and the Oscars or more properly “awards season”) But never ever have I heard the words “171 lives were lost in this fire” until today.

* The Santa Ana winds are the hot dry offshore winds driving heat and dust before it, coloring the sky, much as the Sirocco turns the sky red in Rome every year from the Saharan sands it brings to the Mediterranean. Fires started during “Santa Ana season” are deadly and unstoppable.

Officials have declared the fires in southern Australia as set on purpose – Arson. Kevin Rudd, Australia’s Prime Minister, calls it “mass murder” and I agree with him. One of the fires was apparently immediately re-set, again arson, after firefighters had already swept through, put it out, and moved on to the next hot spot.

This area of Australia also has its annual share of “summer” (for this is their summer) bushfires spurred on by dry weather and heavy winds, much like Southern California so they too know to prepare, but how do you prepare for this? The entire country is praying for their brothers and mourning for their losses – donations of blood are being solicited, people are sending help where they can.

And it isn’t over yet.

What kind of person does this?

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For those of you that want to help, go to http://secure.salvationarmy.org/ and donate directly.  Be sure to designate “Victoria Fires” in the “Specific Use” box under “Donation Details” or your donation will go into the Salvation Army’s general fund.

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