As the first Black Summer inquiry prepares to report, we reveal the inside story of Australia’s biggest bushfire.
It burned for 79 days and remains seared in the memory of all who feared and fought it.
The statistics are staggering. Over a million hectares burned; a hundred homes destroyed on Sydney’s doorstep.
Gospers Mountain became famous as Australia’s first “mega-blaze”.
But behind the smoke, flames and evacuations, there is still much to learn about the monster.
The ABC has pieced together data, imagery and interviews to form a new narrative of the fire.
The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) and National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) contributed information and access to operational commanders, some speaking for the first time.
We can reveal the fire’s starting point, and how close Sydney’s suburbs came to disaster.
Firefighters tell of raised hopes as the flames faltered, and despair as backburns backfired.
This is how the mega-blaze unfolded.
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