THE Ballarat region has so far been relatively unscathed during the latest heatwave conditions that have hit almost every corner of the nation during the past couple of weeks.
Certainly the fires that are raging in Tasmania and south-western Victoria provide a stark reminder that the peril created by the incessant temperature breaches above 38 degrees is never far from the minds of anyone living in path of danger.
Today those in areas already facing significant danger face more extreme weather.
To late yesterday, more than 100 buildings had been destroyed in a 19,000-hectare fire on the Tasman peninsula, with police and defence personnel conducting a painstaking search house-by-house to locate people who were unaccounted for.
In New South Wales, more than 90 fires were active yesterday. The area of most concern is 14km north-east of Wagga Wagga, where a grass fire was burning out of control.
Closer to home, thousands of hectares have been razed in a fire west of Portland.
Yet despite the immense loss of property, infrastructure and land, the worst is not over.
Temperatures above 40 degrees are predicted in many areas of northern Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales today. It has led authorities to warn of catastrophic conditions beyond those already experienced during the first week of the new year.
As fortunate as Ballarat residents may feel to be sheltered from such predictions, it does provoke thoughts about what we can do to help.
Today we report about the local Country Fire Authority members who flew to Tasmania at the weekend to help our southern friends. Others are donating goods and money to help those who may have lost their homes or other property.
It’s the spirit of community which has had greater resonance in Victoria in recent years because tragedy has been so very close to home.
Considering that we are not yet halfway through what is predicted to be a hotter than average summer, it is not possible to think that what is being experienced across many other regions of the nation will necessarily pass us by.
Our hopes and wishes remain that that is case, as they do in the strongest sense for those in the midst of the battle at this very moment.