Understanding Black Saturday

7 February 2009 near Kinglake, Victoria. Credit: Bushfire CRC

The devastating bushfires in Victoria, Australia on 7 February 2009 resulted in the loss of 173 lives and caused major property and asset damage. The fires are considered to be Australia’s worst peacetime disaster.

The questions and issues that quickly emerged will be the subject of major debate, in Australia and internationally, for years to come.

The Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre reacted with a fast and comprehensive research response. Almost every day over the two and half months after Black Saturday, the Bushfire CRC placed teams of up to 50 researchers from across Australia, New Zealand and the United States in the field. This amounted to more than 2,000 staff days of extensive data collection and analysis, working in the aftermath of the disaster alongside fire fighters, police officers, community workers and residents across the fire-affected areas.

In the end the task force analysed more than 1,300 affected homes, interviewed more than 600 residents and took more than 21,000 photographs.

The mass of collected data is unprecedented in fire science. It is now a solid foundation for better decisions on fire and land management and on community safety, in Australia and around the world.

For more information: Bushfire CRC, David Bruce, Tel: +61 (3) 9412 9606, david.bruce@bushfirecrc.com, www.bushfirecrc.com