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23 April 2003

A book which documents the stories and images of the ACT's devastating January bushfires contributed by those who lived through the capital's greatest disaster will be launched at the National Museum next week.

How Did the Fire Know We Lived Here?: Canberra's Bush Fires January 2003 includes stories, poems and pictures from more than 100 contributors from across the ACT. Most are residents and firefighters and some are children aged eight to 12.

Stephen Matthews, editor and publisher of Ginninderra Press, selected the contributions from more than 300 submitted.

His wife Heide Seaman conceived the idea and ABC Radio 666's Louise Maher supported it with on-air requests for contributions in the weeks following the fires.

A four-year-old Canberra girl inspired the title in a question to her mother.

'The book was never intended to be literary, but some of the writing is stunning the result of a very intense experience,' says Mr Matthews. 'And some of the pictures take your breath away!'

Everyone associated with the project including Ginninderra Press, the contributors and the printers, Pirion have waived their costs in producing the book. The first print run will produce 3500 books.

All proceeds will go to the Canberra Bushfire Recovery Appeal to help those affected by the fires, some of whom are contributors.

How Did the Fire Know We Lived Here?: Canberra's Bush Fires January 2003, will be launched by ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope, at 10am next Tuesday, April 29 in the Hall at the National Museum of Australia.

ABC Radio's Louise Maher will MC the launch, an event involving contributors and their families, firefighters, local politicians, and the public.

The book, costing $22, will be available at booksellers throughout the ACT, including the National Museum shop.

For media enquiries please contact Sandy Forbes, National Museum, on (02) 6208 5301, 0408 679 308 or email or Stephen Matthews, Ginninderra Press on (02) 6258 9060 or

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