Organising Response to Extreme Emergencies: The Victorian Bushfires of 2009


Herman B. Leonard and Arnold M. Howitt, September 2010

The horrific events of Black Saturday (February 7, 2009) in Victoria, Australia, constitute an extreme event. In January and February of 2009, Victoria experienced unprecedented climatic conditions of drought and heat that brought the state to a literally explosive fire condition, with tinder-dry fuels across the state needing only a combination of wind and an ignition source to touch off potentially devastating fires. Over the course of January and early February, firefighters responded to literally hundreds of fires. In the first week of February, historically high temperatures prevailed across the state, with new records set in many locations. Melbourne experienced temperatures for three consecutive days above 43 degrees Celsius (109 degrees Fahrenheit), further exacerbating already historically-threatening fire conditions.

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