These fires are racking up an invisible bill.
Most would agree that even just seeing the billowing smoke, the hellish glow, buckled tin roofs, smouldering ash, the ghostly silhouettes of dead animals lining the roads into obliterated small towns, even when viewed from the safe parts of the country and the globe, even when the horror is confined to a steady scroll behind a screen, is overwhelming.
The helplessness bruises our emotions. We can be forgiven for making a donation, posting something derogatory about our inept prime minister and then switching off our screens for a bit.
For the firefighters, the people wearing masks in boats under those bloodied skies there can be no thought other than surviving one hour or minute to the next. The same goes for the emergency services, the army personnel, those with loved ones in the danger zones, those who have lost loved ones.
Good Morning Britain blasts Australian government on bushfire response. Post continues below.
But what about the rest of us? Yes, we can donate to the Red Cross or Celeste Barber or any of the other funds set up to try to help deal with this unprecedented crisis. We can go shopping and buy things on a list that are needed by the emergency services.
But then what – what to do we do next?
We think about the longer term and how we can help once the fires are out. And I’m not talking about going into towns and spending tourist money. Here is what has occupied my thoughts in the last few months and weeks:
This fire monster has a whole other layer to it. A layer that is invisible right now because the flames are so high and the smoke is so thick.
Once the fires are gone or even if they never do (and that’s what it feels like) many of those survivors will have seen and heard and smelled things that can’t be erased. They may have escaped the fires physically unscathed only to return to ashes where their home once housed their memories.