Ash Wednesday 40th Anniversary

16 February 2023

Ash Wednesday was one of the most significant bushfire events in Australian history, with eight major fires burning across Victoria on 16 February, 1983. 

It’s estimated more than 16,000 firefighters and other emergency personnel were involved in response efforts. 

Devastated regions included the Macedon Ranges, the Otways, Warburton and the Dandenongs, including Upper Beaconsfield and Cockatoo.  

47 people, including 14 volunteer firefighters, lost their lives, and over 3000 homes and other dwellings were destroyed. Over 100,000 hectares of land were burnt, and significant numbers of livestock, domestic animals and wildlife were lost. 

Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said the anniversary was a reminder of the devastating impact emergencies can have on communities. 

“We will never forget those who lost their lives including sixteen firefighters and the impact Ash Wednesday continues to have on so many people and their communities. Thank you to our firefighters and all our emergency services for what you continue to do to keep our communities safe.”