Associated Press
The ruins of a burnt-out house remains after wildfires in Jeeralong West, southeast of
Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2009.

Bushfire Victims Get Boost From Australian Architects

June 08, 2009 07:34 PM
by Sarah Amandolare
In response to the Black Saturday bushfires in February, architects in Australia have designed fire-resistant houses that can be personalized for those whose homes were destroyed.

Catalog of Fire-Resistant Homes

After the bushfires, during which more than 2,000 homes were destroyed, many architects went to the Victoria Building Commission offering to help with the rebuilding process. The end result is the Bushfire Homes Service, an online catalog of home designs in compliance "with new bushfire building codes." The catalog is free in Australian newspaper The Age, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Those who lost their homes in the bushfires now have the opportunity to browse the catalog for a design they like, and then work directly with an architect to personalize and adapt the home "to their needs," reported the Herald.

In addition, the Australian federal government has given emergency grants of 1,000 Australian dollars ($784) to people suffering in the wake of the bushfires. The grants have been disputed by some but defended by Christine Nixon, who leads the Bushfire Recovery Authority. "I think the Federal Government was trying to help," she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. She "does not believe people were rorting the system."

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Background: Victoria bushfires

In February, wildfire ravaged the Australian state of Victoria, causing more than 200 deaths and leaving behind a scorched area larger than the country of Luxembourg, Agence France-Presse reported. The towns of Marysville and Kinglake, which are northwest of Melbourne in Southeast Australia, were completely or mostly destroyed.

The disaster prompted the government's "stay or go policy," which Reuters explained: "people were urged to either leave their homes early and possibly stay away for several days, or be prepared to stay and defend their homes until the fire danger passes."

Related Topic: California residents learning to ward off wildfires

In May, after wildfires spread across Santa Barbara, firefighters credited homeowners for "clearing brush and fire-prone plants from their property," reported MSNBC. Had they not done so, many more homes might have been destroyed. One couple sought safety in a "five-by-seven-foot concrete bunker" that they'd built for document storage. Other residents, including 44-year-old Laura Smith, "built fire safety into the construction" of their homes with materials like "boxed eaves" and stucco, according to MSNBC.

Reference: Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority


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