Victorian Bushfire Update
The bushfires in Victoria have caused massive loss of life, and loss of property. The death toll has risen rapidly through the night, with the latest confirmed total of 173 expected to increase throughout the day. Nearly 1000 homes have been destroyed. Tragedy and heartbreak is everywhere with entire towns having been totally destroyed.
Bruce Bathols - VK3UV
The authorities and their resources have been stretched to the limit, and the Amateur Radio Community through WICEN - the Wireless Institute Civil Emergency Network has been on high alert since the fires started several days ago. At the height of the fires on Sunday 8th February, WICEN Victoria was formally activated, with members being deployed to areas with loss of power and other facilities.
WICEN operators are assisting the local authorities Kinglake 45 Km north east of Melbourne manning both the Kinglake and Alexandra Shire offices on a 24 hour basis until further notice. It is expected that within the next few days Wicen will do the same from Buxton to Alexandra. Access to Kinglake at present is difficult and operators are being be escorted in from Whittlesea. Alexandra access via Seymour and Yea is unrestricted.
At least one amateur repeater in the north east of the state has been lost, VK3RNU Repeater on Mt Stanley has been destroyed by the fires, and VK3RNE on Mt Big Ben is threatened.
The public announcement prepared and released last night on the WIA website by Wicen Secretary Mark Dods VK3XMU has brought forward a excellent response. Wicen greatly appreciate the many offers of help, all offers are being recorded and Amateurs are being contacted and deployed as required. Wicen are requesting that offers be made by email rather than phone to ensure our phone lines are kept free for urgent traffic. Wicen asks for your understanding that individual responses to offers are not possible at this time.
Emails should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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