Australia’s Black Summer

The stories of those trapped in the worst forest fire season in history. The videos stunned the world — images capturing the sheer ferocity of the wildfires — but who filmed them and how did their stories end?

Available on CBC Gem

Australia’s Black Summer

The Passionate Eye

From the frontlines of Australia’s unprecedented wildfire crisis, Australia's Black Summer tells the stories of those trapped at the centre of the firestorms.

Australia’s 2019-2020 summer wildfire season will be remembered as the country’s most devastating fire season ever. Several megablazes, the likes of which the modern world has never seen, destroyed more than 16 millions acres, killed as many as half a billion animals and led to the deaths of 11 firefighters. The videos stunned the world — images from the firegrounds capturing the sheer ferocity of the wildfires. They have been viewed tens of millions of times, but who filmed them and how did their stories end?

"All of the sudden, it was right upon us, within seconds. And we had time to say, 'Get in the house.' We got in the house, and it just exploded all around us." 
- Resident, Kangaroo Island, South Australia

"We could feel that heat coming through the truck. We could see the flames coming in horizontally...we're beginning to make our retreat when the truck came to a complete standstill."
- NSW fire crew, Nowra, New South Wales

A team of reporters and producers have fanned out across Australia to track down the people and the stories behind the heart-stopping footage. What emerges are incredible stories of survival, bravery and heartbreak. From the cabins of fire trucks driving into the inferno to families retreating to the beaches as the flames grew ever closer, these stories from the frontlines are both terrifying and awe-inspiring.