At the end of our exploration we take stock of what we now own. All that remains intact are the plastic pegs on the clothes line out the back. Maybe bush fires have a sense of humour. A police team arrives. They ask us who we are and seem surprised when we tell them. They say we are still officially listed as missing, feared lying dead in the ashes under our feet. We assure them we are very much alive. They continue on their grim task, heading towards a nearby property where we know death came on Saturday.
Chaz showed me the article in the local paper featuring the burnt out remains of his farm house. The wreckage of deformed roof iron and bewildered plumbing, and the four lone chimneys are all that's left of his 115 year old farm homestead: Roslyn.
People tell him he's lucky he wasn't at the farm that weekend, to thank goodness he's alive. They're right, but it's cold comfort at the moment as he nurses a broken heart. He sees the end of a era of wonderful times and good friends at the beloved homestead.
Our Head of Department stopped by this morning to say that one of our Clients, a man who had been in the office last Thursday, a staunch advocate of our Department, had been at his home which turned out to be in the bush fire path. He has been unaccounted for since Saturday, his death confirmed earlier this week.
I heard a fireman say over the weekend, when asked by a reporter how big the fires were, "Basically, a third of Victoria is on fire."