1983 Cann River Fires

In the summer of 1982/1983 a massive bushfire raged in the Cann River area. Sparked by lightning on 31st January, it burnt for 13 weeks in hot, dry conditions. It would eventually burn through around 250,000 hectares including large areas of state forest.  It was one of the worst fires the region had seen.

The fires came after a prolonged drought and CSIRO research showed they exacerbated the problems with sedimentation of rivers in the region.

A booklet written in 1883 by 16 year old Heather Quick as part of her Year 11 Geography assessment at Orbost High School provides a comprehensive account of the of the fires and their impacts on the communities around Cann River. The reader will recognise the perennial problems associated with large scale fire fighting including the logistics of accommodating extra personnel, lack of local knowledge, reliance on volunteer fire fighters and support crews, expenses associated with fire response and economic and environmental recovery from bushfires.

You can access the booklet at https://www.victoriasforestryheritage.org.au/activities1/fire/major-fires/the-1982-83-fires.html or click on the picture below.

25 years after the fires the ABC interviewed Denise Matthews, a Parks Victoria Ranger who had been present for the duration.