The weather conditions on the day were some of the worst bushfire weather conditions ever recorded. Temperatures reached 46 degrees celsius with winds in excess of 100km per hour. Leading up to the disastrous conditions was 2 months of extremely low rainfall and hot dry conditions.
Approximately 400 fires started during the day of the Black Saturday Bushfires, in the evening a cool change came from the south west, although this did lower the temperature, it brought winds in excess of 120km per hour. These winds turned the long flanks of the Black Saturday Bushfires into large fire fronts.
The average speed of the Black Saturday Bushfires was 12km per hour, however in some circumstances the fires travelled up to 600m per 30 seconds. The radiant heat produced in some instances was capable of killing people 400 meters away.
Spot fires, which are fires that start ahead of the main fire front from burning embers, were recorded 35 km ahead of the main fire fronts during the Black Saturday Bushfires.
120 people were killed by a single fire in the Kinglake Area alone.
It is estimated the energy released by the Black Saturday Bushfires, was the equivalent of 1,500 Hiroshima atomic bombs. In total 1,100,000 acres were burnt.
On the morning of 7th of February, 3,582 firefighters were put on standby for the predicted weather conditions, with over 5,000 firefighters in total used to fight the fires. These firefighters came from over Australia, New Zealand and the United States. 1 Australian firefighter was killed when a burnt out tree fell on him.
One of the areas of importance that the Black Saturday Bushfires has shone a light on is bushfire preparation, particularly for homeowners. During a major bushfire, a fire truck can not defend every home. The homes that were properly prepared for a bushfires had a much higher survival rate than those that were not prepared.
To view a Black Saturday Bushfires map simply click the link.