Unhappy anniversary of fire, death and destruction

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Canberra’s suburban hills engulfed in flames during the 2003 bushfires.

AS the ACT nervously endures a summer of real bushfire fear and “hazardous” levels of smoke, the Chief Minister today remembers the victims of the 2003 Canberra bushfires.

“January 18 has always been a day of reflection for this community but this year, in particular, our feelings will be heightened following the devastation of the NSW and Victorian bushfires, and the poor air quality we have been experiencing,” says Andrew Barr.

He says that every member of the ACT community who lived here 17 years ago was affected in some way by the bushfire crisis.

The 2003 Canberra bushfire Photo: Richard Moran, of Channel Nine.

“Tragically, four people died, 500 homes were lost and many people were injured and displaced by the disaster,” he says.

“I would like to remind Canberrans that if you are feeling distressed by the current situation you are not alone. There is support available. It’s important to remember that everyone is different and there is no right or wrong way to respond.

Counselling and support, and online resources are here.

Reporting on the current situation, the Chief Minister says that since the State of Alert was declared, the ESA has worked closely with NSW Rural Fire Service to strengthen containment lines and give the ACT the best chance possible.

“We are using all the resources at our disposal, including the Australia Defence Force to respond to this unprecedented situation,” he says.

“I have been impressed by the dedication of everyone involved in the State of Alert response, and I would like to thank the ACT Emergency Services Agency, and additional personnel from the government, particularly Parks and Conservation staff, and other community organisations, for their commitment to keep Canberrans safe.”


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