From MIT Technology Review, 25 April 2019:
The Blue Mountains are burning. I stand in the doorway of our home and take a long look around: the handmade rugs, the jumble of artworks, the shelves crammed with books, the scattered toys. The house is a tinderbox: wooden walls, doors, balcony, window frames, all built into a lushly forested hillside. I picture all of it flaming into indistinguishable piles of ash.
“Please don’t burn,” I whisper, as if it will make a difference.
I lock up, and join my husband and two children in a car laden with what few precious items we could cram into it.
It’s October 21, 2013, and not one but three wildfires are roaring through the eucalyptus forests. The oil-infused leaves of the gum trees are what lend the Blue Mountains their characteristic hue—but they also make them particularly combustible. The authorities have issued a chilling warning to 80,000 people across 27 mountain villages: Nobody, not even the fire service, can guarantee your safety, and the best course of action is to get out.
So we do. Read more.