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For the majority of the Australian rallying community, the recent Victorian bushfires were little more than a constant news item on television and radio. But to rally people in the Victorian rally fraternity, they were a matter of life and death.

Burning on a huge front in areas regularly used in hundreds of rallies in Victoria over the years, and particularly by major events such as the Rally of Melbourne, the fires have reduced the area to something that resembles a holocaust, and a scene of almost total devastation and destruction. So attractive and peaceful were these areas in the hills around Melbourne that many motorsport competitors made their homes in the leafy gullies, on spectacular ridges and in the quiet, leafy country towns.

Now, however, for many there is nothing left. We think particularly at this time of people like Dick Denvil who lost almost everything he owns, of Derek Reynolds who not only lost his home and business in the inferno, but staff members, friends and acquaintances  who were caught up in the inferno and were unable to escape with their lives. There are others, too – the Tirant family and others who we understand have been lucky to escape with their lives, and Geoff and Lisa Portman who somehow managed to save their home while others around were totally destroyed.

As the days and weeks unfold, there will be more stories of heartbreak, of the loss of life and property, and of hopelessness and helplessness, but also stories of incredible luck and sheer good fortune in the wake of the worst natural disaster in Australia’s history.

It’s of little consequence now, but the apparently-deliberately lit fires will deny Victorian competitors of the use of both hardwood and softwood plantation roads, probably for some considerable time, months or even years as the mopping up and the rebuilding continues. Events planned for the area will certainly be cancelled or postponed while the clean-up continues. While this will be a major blow to rallying in the state, our tiny problem pales into insignificance compared to the things that will be denied the fire victims as they try and rebuild their lives after this tragedy.

We should also remember those whose lives were impacted by the NSW fires at Bega and at Peats Ridge over the weekend, and Queenslanders who have had to confront flooding and torrential rain that has inundated much of their state.

The thoughts and prayers of RallySport Magazine and the thousands of rally competitors around the country are extended to those we know personally or know only by name. It’s at times like this that we all need to get together and support these victims and do what we can to rebuild their lives. Let’s show them a true rallying hand of friendship and support.

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