50 years ago today, Tuesday 7th February 1967, Tasmania experienced its worst ever bush fires. Temperatures rose above 39°C. Winds gusted over 220 km per hour.
64 people died, 900 injured. Nearly 7,500 people were homeless, with 1,293 houses and cottages destroyed. Schools, churches, factories, post offices, hotels, bridges, telephone and power polls ruined.
Destruction widespread in agricultural communities as well as towns and Hobart city, 1,600 vehicles, 1,700 farm buildings destroyed, 62,000 farm animals were lost, 2,400 km of boundary fencing burnt. The total area affected by fire was 182,000 hectares, across twelve municipalities.
These are archive photos and memories of people who lived through that day.
“The noise of the fire”. “The wind”. “The sky and the heat”.
“The sky was mustard yellow with an orange sun”. Later in the day, “the sky was orange with a dark red sun”. “Then the sky was black with smoke”. “Hot ashes blowing around”.
Children were sent home from school. “At home we helped fill the gutters with water, blocked the down pipes with tennis balls”. “We filled the bath with water, any containers we could find, soaked towels and sheets to cover ourselves”.
People left their homes and waded in the water on the beach, to get as far away from the flames and smoke as possible.
Whole streets were burnt out, with just the brick chimney stacks left standing.
An incredible day of tragedy and heroism and community spirit.