Inside a Wildfire Inferno

Inside a Wildfire Inferno




Watch Friday on FX and Streaming on Hulu

[MOTOR SOUNDING] “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. “Whoa.” “Move, Eve.” “I think I first realized it was going to be bad when I saw the fire come up over the mountain. Whoa, [BLEEP]. Look at that.” [ATMOSPHERIC MUSIC PLAYING] “It didn’t feel like the end of the year. It felt like—” [DRUMMING] ”—the end of the world.” [HAUNTING MUSIC PLAYING] “It’s funny looking back. We were doing our shopping, taking kids to the beach, planning our parties to ring in the new year, and all the while, oblivious to the notion that Australia, one of the first countries to welcome the new year in, would also be the first to experience the dramatic changes that it was going to bring. Now when looking back at the accounts of those who survived the worst bushfires in our history, it’s clear that their story is not just a story about fire. It’s also a story about us, how we as people react when the ground just shifts beneath us in what has become a year of upheaval.”

CreditCredit…Matthew Abbott for The New York Times

Producer/Director: John Pappas
Reporter/Producer: Livia Albeck-Ripka

Watch on Friday, Sept. 18, at 10 p.m. on FX and streaming on Hulu.

“It didn’t feel like the end of the year,” India MacDonell said. “It felt like the end of the world.”

At 19, MacDonell was among those who chose to stay and try to protect their homes when wildfires engulfed much of southeastern Australia in late 2019 and early 2020. She recorded everything, providing a harrowing view of what it’s like to stand face to face with an aggravated Mother Nature.

Much of the destruction played out over the holidays, when hot, dry weather and strong winds touched off hundreds of bush fires at a time when Aussies are usually relaxing over a summer break.

Some people were trapped on beaches, surrounded by fire and staring up at a plume of smoke that measured as wide as Europe. Dan Rutherford, a father of young children on family vacation, was among them.

“We’re still trying to work it out in our heads what happened,” he said. “It worries me immensely that my children may have to go through this experience again.”

Senior Editor Liz Day
Director of Photography Victor Tadashi Suarez
Video Editor Pierre Takal
Associate Producers Brennan Cusack and Wesley Harris

“The New York Times Presents” is a series of documentaries representing the unparalleled journalism and insight of The New York Times, bringing viewers close to the essential stories of our time.

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