Today marks the one-year anniversary of the start of the devastating bushfires which deeply affected Victorian communities across the state.
On 21 November, 2019 the first ‘code red’ fire danger rating in almost a decade was declared in the Mallee and Northern Country, and dry lightning strikes in East Gippsland started three fires which grew to a widespread bushfire disaster that burned for months on end.
CFA and Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) are remembering and honouring everyone impacted by the 2019/20 fires which destroyed hundreds of homes, burnt more than 1.5 million hectares of land and tragically claimed the lives of five people – including three FFMVic firefighters.
CFA Acting Chief Officer Garry Cook said the one-year anniversary will be a very difficult time for many Victorians and our emergency responders.
“As we head into another fire season, the next couple of months will no doubt bring back some painful memories for many Victorians,” CO Cook said.
“I hope this can be a time for solace and reflection for anyone who worked on or was impacted by the fires.
“The Victorian community has been through so much in the past year and I will always be proud of the way our CFA members and their communities have banded together to make it through.
“We have taken many lessons from the fires of 2019/20 as we prepare for this year’s season.
“The community should take comfort in the fact Victoria has some of the best firefighters in the world, ready to protect lives and property.”
FFMVic Chief Fire Officer Chris Hardman said the events one year ago led to a long, difficult and challenging summer which impacted so many Victorians.
“This is a time to reflect on the tragic loss of life, the five Victorians lost and the three FFMVic firefighters who sacrificed everything for their community.
“We acknowledge the incredible courage and resilience of our fire and emergency workers and our communities who live and work across one of the most fire prone regions of the world.
“As this summer draws near we need to take care of our physical and mental wellbeing, if the approach of a new fire-season is causing considerable distress it is important to reach out for professional help.”
Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said last year’s bushfires saw devastating impact and extensive damage to property, communities and lives.
“It was a challenging year for all Victorians, but one we can now reflect and learn from, and give thanks to all those who worked tirelessly to keep Victorian communities safe,” he said.
“The commitment and dedication of our emergency services workers who assisted with the 2019/20 fires, will not be forgotten. This fire season, we remain committed as a sector to continue to ensure the best emergency preparedness and response is once again carried to keep the Victorian community safe.”