Ten years ago on the evening of January 18 I was balancing a hose and a camera on the roof of my house as I watched huge helicopter water bombers changing course overhead.
They would scoop water from a nearby dam, drop it on flames about 2km from where I sat, then make the brief flight north to the landmark of the Curtin shops where they banked hard to the south-west to repeat the cycle.
It was 10 years ago that the much-loved fingers of bushland which had previously poked benignly into the urban folds of Canberra became thoroughfares for deadly fires. The bushfires had manoeuvred for the past week at the city’s outskirts, but on that Saturday, January 18, they swept, as if in a co-ordinated attack, down the highly combustible bushland lanes which led to the heart of many suburbs. When the battle for Canberra finally ended a week or so later, 70 per cent of those stretches of prized parklands, plantation forests, and pastures including horse paddocks had been razed or badly damaged.
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