January 2003 saw some of the most ferocious bushfire activity the ACT has ever witnessed. At the end of the three-week period a significant area of the ACT had been burnt, many homes had been destroyed and many others damaged, and tragically four lives lost. The fires raged across the landscape from the most western parts of the ACT to parts of the eastern border. Around 1000 volunteers, career fire fighters and emergency workers combined to confront the fires and limit losses.
Fires of this magnitude are often remembered for what was lost and the damage they caused. However, these fires should also be remembered for what was saved despite extraordinary weather conditions for bushfire fighting. The combined efforts and co-operation of our bushfire fighters and emergency workers is a testimony to the successes that were achieved and the lives and homes saved.
The most common reaction I have seen from our fire fighters as a result of these fires is the sense of loss that they shared with those that lost their homes and those families that lost loved ones. This shows not only the dedication and determination they demonstrated but also the heart that they put into fighting the fires.
Every activity undertaken was just as essential as the person on the end of the hose. They were an inspiration not only to the ACT community but all Australians and we owe all of these people a significant debt of gratitude.
This publication is a manifestation and pictorial record of some aspects of this extraordinary event from the eyes of those intimately involved.
Peter Lucas-Smith AFSM
Bushfire and Emergency Services
Last updated 4 November 2014