In Australian history, Wednesday, Feb 16th of 1983 is known as Ash Wednesday
I'm old enough that I remember that day and the following, and while we were lucky enough not to even be evacuated, many homes were lost and 75 people across Victoria and South Australia lost their lives.
Historically, huge bushfire events like this occur several times a century (according to the link above), and the most infamous before Ash Wednesday was Black Friday, back in 1939.
Yesterday, the temperature in Melbourne reached the highest in recorded history at 46.4C, or 115.2, and while it was a day of Total Fire Ban, bushfires still happen.
As it stands, 25 people are confirmed lost, with the expectation of more to follow.
While here in Melbourne, the temperature has dropped dramatically and it's even thundering a bit, there are still bushfires all over the state, and it will take a while to put them out and confront the aftermath.
New South Wales has fire problems too.
I have family out Muswellbrook way, and wasn't aware until just now that there are fires there, but I'll see what I can find out.
Anyone who has news about these tragedies, please let us know so that we can update.
ABC has a list of fires still burning in Victoria, and there was a fire over at Gawler, a bit north of Adelaide.
God bless those who have lost their lives in the fires - they no longer have to face fear or great pain.
Please keep safe our firefighters and volunteers as they attempt to control this massive, natural disaster.
UPDATE:65 dead in the worst tragedy in Victoria's history.
Black Friday claimed 71 lives, but that was also in 1939, and they were across South Australia as well.
The death toll is expected to continue.
I did read on another blog (possibly bolta's) someone making a snarky comment about Therese Rein tearing up and crying at the devastation. Well I was driving home this evening and heard that the toll had reached 49 and I teared up, too.
There was also a catty comment about KRudd giving out hugs.
Say what you like about him (and I don't hold back on that score), but there is not a lot else he can do right now.
Sure, John Howard would have been on the first plane down, but Howard's not here and Rudd is.
At least he got here.
UPDATE 2 Tim Blair and Andrew Bolt are both updating more regularly than I am.
For those who wish to donate from overseas, Australian Red Cross is a good place to start.