I’ve mentioned this disaster before, but today is the fifteenth anniversary of the freakish firestorm that tore through Canberra, Australia’s capital city. Unlike other bushfires, this one burnt into the city itself, claiming lives and destroying many hundreds of buildings.
Watch from 1:08 in to see what the suburban streets looked like that afternoon.
The images below (from Wikimedia Commons) are from before the sky turned blacker than night, and then bright red. All the photos are of places I was on that day. When everything went black, it started raining embers, and the flames started rolling down the mountains that surround us, things got really scary in this part of town. (What looks like lights in the first picture is all fire.)
People I know lost everything, but we got lucky and the firebombing helicopters were just over us and stopped it before it jumped the road to our side.
Bryan Lawrence, a soloist with Britain’s Royal Ballet before moving to Australia to become one of The Australian Ballet’s early principals, died over the weekend. He was in his eighty-first year.
With Shirley Grahame.
After retiring, Lawrence and his ballerina wife Janet Karin moved to Canberra where they founded a highly successful ballet school. Their graduates went to on star with companies such as American Ballet Theatre, the Joffrey Ballet, and – of course – The Australian Ballet. Ross Stretton, the late director of both Australia’s national company and The Royal Ballet, also began his training there.
Raw news footage of the firestorm that hit Canberra, Australia’s capital city, on the 18th of January, 2003. The disaster claimed lives, burnt nearly 70% of the Australian Capital Territory, destroyed over 500 houses, and burnt internationally significant institutions such as the Mount Stromlo Observatory to the ground.
On the 29th of November, 1993 a man by the name of Felipe Ruizdiaz went on a rampage in Canberra, Australia’s capital city. Ruizdiaz, 47, shot the manager at Dickson Swimming Pool before driving his ute, filled with gas canisters and petrol, to the Jolimont Centre in Canberra’s city centre.
In what was believed to be a revenge attack on his estranged wife, he drove into the entrance of the multi-storey building and began to throw petrol bombs before shooting at emergency service members who responded to the incident.
Ruizdiaz eventually shot and killed himself.
A radio station located in the building continued to broadcast throughout the attack.