Special Sub-Topic: Ash Wednesday Bushfires
|On what date did the Ash Wednesday bushfires occur?|
16th Feb 1983. The fires were alight and finished in the short space of a day. They started in a number of ways: through the clashing of electric power lines, tree branches connecting with power lines, fires being deliberately lit, and through unknown causes.
|The summer rainfall for Victoria was up to how much percent less than in previous years?|
75%. Victoria had been in a drought for more than ten months. This meant that water supplies, such as dams were low.
|What is the average relative humidity in Melbourne on a summer's day?|
43%. The higher the humidity is, the harder it is for a fire to start, as there is more moisture in the air.
|What was the relative humidity on Ash Wednesday?|
15%. The lack of moisture in the air contributed greatly to the severity of the fires. There were dry northerly winds and temperatures rose to over 40 degrees Celsius.
|People on the outskirts of Melbourne were unaware of the approaching fires due to a dust storm.|
True. The dust storm reduced the visibility and the fires could not be seen. Two hundred thousand tons of dry soil were lifted from the ground and the dust cloud was so large and thick that it blocked out the sun in Melbourne.
|Approximately how many separate fires started on Ash Wednesday?|
180. The largest bushfires started in Victoria at Cudgee and Branxholme (near Warrnambool), around Mount Macedon, in the Dandenong Ranges - Cockatoo, Upper Beaconsfield and Belgrave Heights, Monivae, Branxholme, Warburton and in the Otways. Fires also broke out in South Australia.
|How many hectares of land were burned?|
210,000. Fires burning in South Australia on the same day destroyed over 208,000 hectares of land.
|How many lives were lost in the Ash Wednesday fires?|
75. The Ash Wednesday fires claimed 75 lives in total, 47 in Victoria and 28 in South Australia. The largest number of lives were lost in the Upper Beaconsfield fire with 20 deaths. Hundreds of others were burnt or otherwise injured. Twelve volunteer firefighters in Victoria were killed in the fire at Beaconsfield.
|How many homes/buildings were destroyed in the state of Victoria alone?|
over 2890. Several hundred homes were also lost in South Australia on the same day.
|How many fire fighters attended to the Ash Wednesday bushfires?|
16,000. These included park and forest fire fighters and volunteer fire fighters who accounted for the majority. Approximately 1500 police and defense personnel also fought the fires along with community members.
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