Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire: Musings on the Nature of Fire and the Smell of Smoke

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I’ve had an interesting week and the smell of smoke has played a starring role. As the saying goes, “where there’s smoke there’s fire”, and this week there was indeed a fire, a 1,200 hectare fire (3000 acres) in fact, quite close to our house in rural Victoria. On a 39 degree, windy day, with grass and foliage as dry as tinder at the end of an El Niño summer, we watched a terrifying bushfire start in the nearby mountains and get out of control very quickly. Our adrenal glands were exhausted from the panic of that day and we are still recovering from the stressful evacuation that we chose to undertake. Though the fire was 18 kilometres away, across the dry grassy paddocks, fire can move at a speed of 60 kilometres an hour in the right conditions (trust me, it was the right conditions), and with the strong wind shifting to fan the fire our way, there was no way we were going to take any chances. We left.

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