The bushfires of 13 January 1939, known as the Black Friday fires, followed a long drought and a severe, hot, dry summer. Fanned by extremely strong winds, these fires swept rapidly across large areas of Victoria, causing widespread destruction. An area of almost two million hectares was burned across the state, with 71 people losing their lives. Whole townships were destroyed, many sawmills burned to the ground and thousands of sheep, cattle and horses were killed by the intense heat and flames. …The 1939 bushfires were perhaps the most significant event in the environmental history of Victoria, profoundly damaging millions of hectares of forests, affecting soil fertility and impacting important water catchments. …Judge Stretton made seven major recommendations to improve forest and fire management and to help prevent events like the Black Friday bushfires from occurring again.