Tempered by Fire

Tempered by Fire: Stories from the firefighters and Survivors of the 1961 Western Australian Bushfires is a book published by the Bushfire Front, edited by Roger Underwood, 2011.

See: https://www.bushfirefront.org.au/resources-2/historical-accounts/1961-2/

These 1961 fires razed four towns and wiped out hundreds of thousands of hectares of forests and farmland.

The stories are from people who fought these fires, were forced to flee from them, or who lost everything in their paths.

Here is part of the foreword by Bruce Beggs, ISO, Patron The Bushfire Front Inc:

A few weeks after the fires, I visited Compartment 10 in Holmes State Forest a few kilometres south of Dwellingup. This forest had special significance to me because my father had worked as a faller there in 1915 just before going off to the war. I had always enjoyed the beautiful regrowth jarrah forest that had come away afterwards. Before the 1961 fire it had not been burned for 45 years.

After the fire there was nothing left of it. I will never forget sitting on a blackened log there and suddenly realising that I was in the midst of utter silence. No bird sang, no insect chirped, no leaf rustled. I had never experienced total silence in the bush before.

I mentioned this to Alan McArthur, the scientific adviser to the 1961 Royal Commission. Alan told me that the Dwellingup Fire was in the top 12 most intense fires he had ever studied, world-wide, but that in one respect it was unique: it was the only fire he knew that made its main run at night-time.

The great lesson learned from the 1961 bushfires was the need for fuel reduction.

Without it no force on Earth can stop a fire on a bad day.

Interview with Roger Underwood, 2011: Former forester puts together the stories of the Dwellingup fire of 1961

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