|Black Friday Bushfires
January 13, 1939
The Black Friday fires of January 13, 1939, in Victoria, Australia, are considered one of the worst natural wildfires in the world. 4,942,000 acres (7,722 square miles!) of land were burnt, 71 people died, several towns were entirely destroyed, over 1,300 homes and 69 sawmills were burnt, and a total of 3,700 buildings were destroyed. It was calculated that three quarters of the State of Victoria was directly or indirectly affected by the disaster. Five townships – Hill End, Narbethong, Nayook West, Noojee, Woods Point – were completely destroyed, and not all were rebuilt afterwards. The summer of 1938–39 had been hot and dry (exceeding 110ºF), and several fires had broken out. By early January, fires were burning in a number of locations across the state. Then, on Friday January 13, a strong northerly wind hit the state, causing several of the fires to combine into one massive front. Ash from the fires fell as far away as New Zealand. The fires came under control two days later, when rain fell on the night of Sunday the 15th.