Black Saturday Remembered 10 Years On
Ten years after the Black Saturday bushfires people in the tight-knit community of Marysville are set to return to the oval where they sheltered from the inferno.
It's one of many commemorative events across Victoria to pay tribute to the 173 people who lost their lives on February 7 in 2009.
The fires also left 400 people injured, destroyed more than 2000 properties and displaced 7500 people.
The small resort down 100km northeast of Melbourne was one of the worst hit communities and 40 people died in and around the area.
Some of those who escaped the fires took shelter on the Gallipoli Park oval as Marysville burned down around them.
Marysville resident Daryl Hull was one of them before he fled and spent four hours in an ornamental lake.
Despite losing everything he returned to live in the small town a year after the fires.
"It wasn't really much of a decision. I just went to Marysville, and even though it was pretty wrecked, I've always loved it," he said.
Other communities including Kinglake West, St Andrews, Strathewen, Flowerdale and Yarra Glen will be holding their own services on Thursday.
But many people who lived through the blaze have said they don't want to mark the day and would rather move on.
Community leaders have made it clear they want any commemorations to be for locals only.
"I think people will just be glad to get it over with, and then there's no more anniversaries. We can move on," Marysville survivor Tony Thompson said.
Numerous survivors said they will not be attending commemorative events and were not interested in speaking on Thursday.
In state parliament Premier Daniel Andrews paid tribute to the thousands of people whose lives were forever changed by the disaster.
"It really was the worst of nature but with it came the very best of humanity," he said on Wednesday.
BLACK SATURDAY BUSHFIRES STATISTICS:
- February 7, 2009
- 173 people died, another 400 injured
- Five fires claimed lives; 119 died in the Kilmore East fire (Kinglake), 40 in the Murrindindi fire that hit Marysville, 11 in Churchill, two in Beechworth-Mudgegonga and one in Bendigo.
- Some of the areas also impacted include; Kinglake West, St Andrews, Cambarville, Humevale, Strathewen, Flowerdale, Hazeldene, Steels Creek, Arthurs Creek, Strath Creek, Toolangi, Clonbinane, Heathcote Junction, Upper Plenty, Whittlesea, Narbethong, Yarra Glen, Callignee, Callignee Upper, Churchill, Koornalla, Jeeralang Junction, Mudgegonga, Long Gully.
- More than 2000 properties destroyed
- 760 vehicles destroyed
- 7500 displaced people over an area of 450,000 hectares
- Most of the bushfire deaths were linked to fallen power lines or arson.
- The fires were fanned by 100 km/h winds in 40C-plus heat
- Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission examined aspects of the fires with 155 days of hearings, and was bankrolled by $40 million in taxpayer funding
- 9088 calls for help were made to triple-zero on Black Saturday
- The Insurance Council of Australia reported claims of approximately $1.2 billion, of which 84 per cent were property or contents and 16 per cent motor vehicle claims
- More than one million animals died in the fires, the RSPCA estimated. This includes in excess of 4500 sheep, 4000 cattle and 200 horses
- VicForests reported the fires burnt about 10,000 hectares of the mountain ash forest available for timber harvesting
- 106,327 hours of Victoria Police investigation into deliberately lit Black Saturday fires
- The Kilmore East-Kinglake class action settled for $495 million in late 2014 while the Murrindindi case was settled in early 2015 for $300 million - Australia's biggest class actions.
- Telstra spent $15 million restoring and upgrading communications infrastructure destroyed or damaged by the bushfires, but put its total related costs at almost $20 million.
- Damage to Powercor assets were estimated at approximately $729,000.35
- Hundreds of people attended a state commemorative service held at Melbourne's Royal Exhibition Building on Monday
- Numerous community events will be held on Thursday, with media asked not to attend.
(Sources: AAP/Victoria Police/Victorian Bushfires Reconstruction and Recovery Authority/2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission Final Report Summary)