Bushfires in Victoria

Find books, government reports, websites, statistics, newspaper articles and images about Victorian bushfires from 1851 to today.


The 2009 Victorian firestorm resulted in the worst loss of life from any recorded Australian bushfire. 173 people died in these devastating fires. Most deaths occurred on Black Saturday, February 7, 2009.

Advice on using the Library's newspapers collection to find information is available on our Research fires page.

Royal Commission

The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission investigated the causes and responses to the bushfires which swept through parts of Victoria in late January and February 2009. The VBRC completed inquiries on 19 May 2010.

The website has been archived and is available at the National Library of Australia archive site.

The Commission's interim reports can be accessed at the Library (Interim report and Interim report 2: priorities for building in bushfire prone areas)

The Commission's final report was released on 31 July 2010 and is available online (PDF summary or interactive HTML) and in print at the Library. An HTML index is available online (note that links no longer work but it can still help locate relevant sections).

Following the release of the final report, a series of public consultation sessions occurred in effected communities. Papers created during these sessions are held in the Library's Manuscripts Collection. They focus on refuges, evacuation, resettlement, fuel management, power line management and planning and Local Government.

Print and digital documents from the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission are archived at Public Records Office Victoria (VA 4864).


Implementing the government's response to the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission. May 2011. Online and print.

Progress reports
2015 - first report prepared by the Inspector-General for Emergency Management (IGEM) on the implementation progress of the recommendations and associated actions from the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.

2016 - IGEM's second report covering 2015-2016. Tabled in Parliament on 13 October 2016.

Lives lost

All 173 people who died, including 172 civilians and 1 firefighter, are named in the final report of the Bushfires Royal Commission. The book Black Saturday includes short biographies of some of the people who died.

The Centre for Risk and Community Safety, RMIT University & Bushfire CRC prepared 'A review of fatalities in the February 7, 2009, bushfires' for the Commission.

The Wildlife Victoria bushfires website has some information about wildlife losses and the destruction of 7 wildlife shelters.

Victoria's endangered Leadbeater's Possums were devastated by the fires, with nearly half of their habitat estimated to be destroyed. (source)


Sam the koala

Sam the koala became a symbol of survival and compassion after the 2009 bushfires.

Sam was filmed being given water by a CFA firefighter, David Tree, after surviving preventative backburning operations in Boolarra, Gippsland, in the week leading up to the fires.

In the wake of the Black Saturday fires, footage and photographs of Sam and Dave led news stories across the globe. Sales of photographs raised substantial funds for bushfires victims.

Sam suffered third degree burns and was taken to the Southern Ash Wildlife Shelter in Rawson for treatment. While she was there it was discovered that she was suffering from ovarian cysts linked to chlamydia, a disease which is rapidly spreading through the koala population.

Sam was euthanased on 6 August 2009 after it was discovered that the disease had spread throughout her body. Her condition was inoperable.

A taxidermist preserved Sam and she was placed on display at the Melbourne Museum.