The rural town of Tara in Queensland’s Western Downs — which in 2021 had a population of less than 2,000 — has been ravaged by bushfires. In this fire season alone, more homes have been lost in the small town than the number of homes that were lost across the entirety of Queensland during the Black Summer fires of 2019. And it’s not even summer yet.
Since October 21, fire crews have battled 900 vegetation fires across Queensland, per ABC News, 80 of which were fought yesterday alone. There are still 81 bushfires burning across the state.
While new and equally scary fires threaten the NSW/Queensland border, it looks like the fires around Tara are slowing down. They’re still burning, but according to Inspector Joe Cullen from the RFS, the fires are “contained”.
Residents of Tara have been given the go ahead to return home and survey the damage to their properties. Horrifyingly, the number of homes lost is overwhelming.
According to ABC News, a total of 57 homes were destroyed around Tara — which is more than the total number of 49 homes destroyed across the whole state of Queensland in the Black Summer fires of 2019.
“Some people have lost everything,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said, per ABC News.
“I think everybody is feeling absolutely broken with what’s been happening out there.”
Tara local Leah Fenwick said her partner’s home was among the houses lost in the fires.
“This firestorm has come through like the devil in black and tried to kill Tara,” she told ABC News.
“But if you look under the black blanket that this storm has left, you have got nothing but people with beauty, grit, strength, hope and the willingness to help each other.
“There’s no better community coming together like Tara.”
While conditions are stabilising at Tara, it’s not completely safe yet.
However, there is some positive news: according to Palaszczuk, 387 homes were saved by firefighters. Absolute heroes.