On this day …… 20th January 1944

Almost half of the State under fire. Victoria has had a fire experience which was even more disastrous than the holocaust which swept the State in 1939, when human life and homes were destroyed. The fire originated on the same day as that which occurred in South Australia at One Tree Hill, but in Victoria there were many out breaks in different parts of the State, and the losses are colossal. Nineteen deaths of fire fighters have been reported, but the police do not think this covers the full death roll. 70 people are in hospital, suffering grievously from burns. Over the tremendous area laid waste the incomplete records show that over 700 homes were completely destroyed, with many others damaged. Thousands of sheep, cattle and horses passed out, it being said that in the Western district of Victoria alone, 250,000 sheep were destroyed. Those beasts’ which escaped are now roaming aimlesly through the fire waste, bereft of any fed. Damage to property is expected to exceed £1,000,000. In a survey of Victoria’s bushfires, the destruction has been set down. Hamilton and district, 50 homes, the railway coal shed, sawmills, and gun club pavilion. Tarringon, 26 homes. Dunkeld, 36 homes, a total of 112 houses, countless wool sheds, tens of thousands of stock and many hundred miles of fencing. In the country above Cape Otway, stock losses will be 250,000 sheep including some of the finest studs and the most highly prized breeding sheep in the world, 4000 beef and dairy cattle, 1000 swine, 2000 poultry, and 400 horse. Crop’s of flax and cereals, wool, farm equipment and hundreds of miles of fencing. Ninety-eight per cent of the properties were not insured. The Federal Government has made a grant of £200,000 for relief, and the State Parliamentary Committee is investigating relief measures.