Australia's worst bushfires

A petrol tank explodes during the 1939 Black Friday bushfires. Photo: FAIRFAX ARCHIVES
A petrol tank explodes during the 1939 Black Friday bushfires. Photo: FAIRFAX ARCHIVES
Bushfire fighters line up at the 1939 Black Friday fires. Photo: FAIRFAX ARCHIVES

Bushfire fighters line up at the 1939 Black Friday fires. Photo: FAIRFAX ARCHIVES

People on the balcony of the Lorne Hotel watch as fire rolls over Ottway Ranges toward Lorne, Victoria during the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires. Photo: FAIRFAX ARCHIVES

People on the balcony of the Lorne Hotel watch as fire rolls over Ottway Ranges toward Lorne, Victoria during the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires. Photo: FAIRFAX ARCHIVES

A CFA firefighter pauses for breath during the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983. Photo: FAIRFAX ARCHIVES

A CFA firefighter pauses for breath during the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983. Photo: FAIRFAX ARCHIVES

Police and firefighters remove the bodies of six people trapped and killed during the Ash Wednesday fires. Photo: FAIRFAX ARCHIVES

Police and firefighters remove the bodies of six people trapped and killed during the Ash Wednesday fires. Photo: FAIRFAX ARCHIVES

Aftermath of the Ash Wednesday fires in Mount Macedon, Victoria. Photo: FAIRFAX ARCHIVES

Aftermath of the Ash Wednesday fires in Mount Macedon, Victoria. Photo: FAIRFAX ARCHIVES

Devastation caused by the Ash Wednesday fires at Cockatoo, Victoria. Photo: JOHN LAMB

Devastation caused by the Ash Wednesday fires at Cockatoo, Victoria. Photo: JOHN LAMB

Hobart was threatened during the 1967 Black Tuesday fires in Tasmania. Photo: JOHN LAMB

Hobart was threatened during the 1967 Black Tuesday fires in Tasmania. Photo: JOHN LAMB

Six people died in these three cars, or trying to escape from them when the fire struck across the Geelong Road, near Lara in 1969. Photo: FAIRFAX ARCHIVES

Six people died in these three cars, or trying to escape from them when the fire struck across the Geelong Road, near Lara in 1969. Photo: FAIRFAX ARCHIVES

The ruins of homes destroyed during bushfires in Como in 1994. Photo: BARRY CHAPMAN

The ruins of homes destroyed during bushfires in Como in 1994. Photo: BARRY CHAPMAN

Smoke obscures the Sydney skyline during the 1994 fires. Photo: RICK STEVENS

Smoke obscures the Sydney skyline during the 1994 fires. Photo: RICK STEVENS

The Royal National Park ablaze during the 1994 bushfires. Photo: FAIRFAX ARCHIVES

The Royal National Park ablaze during the 1994 bushfires. Photo: FAIRFAX ARCHIVES

A household pool in Como where a woman died while trying to shelter from a bushfire. Photo: FAIRFAX ARCHIVES

A household pool in Como where a woman died while trying to shelter from a bushfire. Photo: FAIRFAX ARCHIVES

Police block the Princes Highway as a massive bushfire approaches the southern Sydney suburb of Heathcote on Boxing Day 2001. Photo: REUTERS

Police block the Princes Highway as a massive bushfire approaches the southern Sydney suburb of Heathcote on Boxing Day 2001. Photo: REUTERS

Firefighters watch as a massive bushfire approaches the southern Sydney suburb of Heathcote on Boxing Day 2001. Photo: REUTERS

Firefighters watch as a massive bushfire approaches the southern Sydney suburb of Heathcote on Boxing Day 2001. Photo: REUTERS

A Rural Fire Service member hides from flames and embers during a bushfire in Orangeville. Photo: NICK MOIR

A Rural Fire Service member hides from flames and embers during a bushfire in Orangeville. Photo: NICK MOIR

A fire rages out of control at Darkes Forest, south of Sydney. Photo: SYLVIA LIBER

A fire rages out of control at Darkes Forest, south of Sydney. Photo: SYLVIA LIBER

A man relaxes on Austinmer Beach, near Wollongong, as a bushfire rages in the background. Photo: GREG TOTMAN

A man relaxes on Austinmer Beach, near Wollongong, as a bushfire rages in the background. Photo: GREG TOTMAN

A firefighter battles to save a home near Warragamba during the 2001 fires. Photo: REUTERS

A firefighter battles to save a home near Warragamba during the 2001 fires. Photo: REUTERS

Firefighters douse flames on smouldering bushland near the central coast town of Wyong in 2001. Photo: REUTERS

Firefighters douse flames on smouldering bushland near the central coast town of Wyong in 2001. Photo: REUTERS

Owners of a house destroyed by a bushfire in 2001 sift through the rubble for valuables in the township of Warrimoo, located in the Blue Mountains. Photo: REUTERS

Owners of a house destroyed by a bushfire in 2001 sift through the rubble for valuables in the township of Warrimoo, located in the Blue Mountains. Photo: REUTERS

A bushfire threatens homes in Springwood during the 2001 fires. Photo: STEVE CHRISTO

A bushfire threatens homes in Springwood during the 2001 fires. Photo: STEVE CHRISTO

A sign asking for donations stands at the beginning of a street where six homes were destroyed by a bushfire in the township of Warrimoo in 2001. Photo: REUTERS

A sign asking for donations stands at the beginning of a street where six homes were destroyed by a bushfire in the township of Warrimoo in 2001. Photo: REUTERS

A banksia drops seeds as ranger Kym Schramm inspects the Wyperfeld National Park following bushfires in 2003. Photo: ANGELA WYLIE

A banksia drops seeds as ranger Kym Schramm inspects the Wyperfeld National Park following bushfires in 2003. Photo: ANGELA WYLIE

A cricket match carries on in Cessnock, on the central coast, despite a huge bushfire in the background. Photo: DARREN PATEMAN

A cricket match carries on in Cessnock, on the central coast, despite a huge bushfire in the background. Photo: DARREN PATEMAN

A fire approaches a horse stable and residences in the suburb of Curtin during Canberra's 2003 fires. Photo: SEAN DAVEY

A fire approaches a horse stable and residences in the suburb of Curtin during Canberra's 2003 fires. Photo: SEAN DAVEY

The Stromlo Hill Observatory was operated by the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics before being destroyed by a disastrous bushfire on Saturday January 18 2003. Photo: SEAN DAVEY

The Stromlo Hill Observatory was operated by the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics before being destroyed by a disastrous bushfire on Saturday January 18 2003. Photo: SEAN DAVEY

An aerial shot of Canberra the day after fires destroyed more than 500 homes. Photo: JACKY GHOSSEIN

An aerial shot of Canberra the day after fires destroyed more than 500 homes. Photo: JACKY GHOSSEIN

A rural fire service firefighter ignites a backburn above an empty F3 freeway on the eastern side of Berowra, on the central coast in 2007. Photo: DEAN SEWELL

A rural fire service firefighter ignites a backburn above an empty F3 freeway on the eastern side of Berowra, on the central coast in 2007. Photo: DEAN SEWELL

The sun rises on Kinglake, Victoria, a week after devastating bushfires in 2009. Photo: PENNY STEPHENS

The sun rises on Kinglake, Victoria, a week after devastating bushfires in 2009. Photo: PENNY STEPHENS

The ruins of a home in Kinglake destroyed during bushfires. Photo: PENNY STEPHENS

The ruins of a home in Kinglake destroyed during bushfires. Photo: PENNY STEPHENS

A firefighter rests as bushfires rage out of control from the Bunyip State Park towards the townships of Labortouche and Tonimbuk, Victoria in 2009. Photo: JASON SOUTH

A firefighter rests as bushfires rage out of control from the Bunyip State Park towards the townships of Labortouche and Tonimbuk, Victoria in 2009. Photo: JASON SOUTH

A bushfire burns through a forest on the outskirts of Labertouche, 90km east of Melbourne in February 2009. Photo: REUTERS

A bushfire burns through a forest on the outskirts of Labertouche, 90km east of Melbourne in February 2009. Photo: REUTERS

The burnt out township of Kinglake after fires swept through in February 2009. Photo: CRAIG ABRAHAM

The burnt out township of Kinglake after fires swept through in February 2009. Photo: CRAIG ABRAHAM

CFA members prepare as a fire approaches Labertouche. Photo: REUTERS

CFA members prepare as a fire approaches Labertouche. Photo: REUTERS

Peter Paulka at the Strathewen property where his brother Terry Paulka and sister-in-law Donna died during the Black Saturday bushfires. Photo: PAUL ROVERE

Peter Paulka at the Strathewen property where his brother Terry Paulka and sister-in-law Donna died during the Black Saturday bushfires. Photo: PAUL ROVERE

Signs of life begin to return to Kinglake, Victoria a month after devastating bushfires swept through the area. Photo: PENNY STEPHENS

Signs of life begin to return to Kinglake, Victoria a month after devastating bushfires swept through the area. Photo: PENNY STEPHENS

Forensic Police walk along Lyell Street, Marysville a few days after bushfires destroyed the town. Photo: CRAIG ABRAHAM

Forensic Police walk along Lyell Street, Marysville a few days after bushfires destroyed the town. Photo: CRAIG ABRAHAM

The bush begins to regenerate near Marysville after the Black Saturday bushfires. Photo: PENNY STEPHENS

The bush begins to regenerate near Marysville after the Black Saturday bushfires. Photo: PENNY STEPHENS

Each summer, Australians around the nation brace themselves for yet another bushfire season, fearing that this one could bring fire to their doorstep. Over the past century, bushfires have destroyed thousands of homes and killed hundreds as they tried to protect their properties or flee a raging inferno. Here, we gather just a few images from those devastating fire seasons.