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Memento : Issue 23
18 memento may 2003 Of those who lost their homes, many commented that the greatest loss was of their more personal items. A house can be rebuilt, but a photograph, letter or wedding dress may be irreplaceable. It may be a small comfort to learn that fires often don't burn everything, and don't always burn things completely. Books, for example, often survive a fire with just their edges singed, because of the lack of oxygen between their pages. Metallic objects such as jewellery and medals can survive a fire relatively unscathed. The first sight of a fire-damaged house and personal belongings can be overwhelming. But a fire victim might be able to salvage more than they first think. Saving treasures Two boys search the debris that was their home, while their neighbour's appears untouched, after a fire in Lara, Victoria, 1969. While the exhibition Beacons by the Sea was on show in our Canberra gallery, we surveyed visitors to gauge their level of satisfaction. We promised that one lucky interviewee would win a copy of John Ibbotsen's wonderful book Lighthouses of Australia. We've now drawn the winning name from the proverbial hat. Congratulations to Anna Frebel from the Canberra suburb of O'Connor. Thanks very much to everyone who filled in the survey forms -- they will be very useful in our exhibition evaluation. The Canberra fires of January 2003 serve as a reminder that cities are not immune from the horrors of bushfire. When sorting through a fire-damaged house, damaged treasures can be put aside and stored temporarily in a plastic crate until they can be assessed as to what might be saved. Material that has been damaged by water used to put out the fire needs to be treated more quickly, to prevent problems like mould growth and the running of inks. Wet material should either be dried immediately or frozen to buy time. Advice should be sought on the best way of doing this. One way of reducing the risk of losing treasures is to keep them all in one place. In the event of fire or other disaster, it will be easier to find them and leave quickly. Zetta Florence has recently created a treasures box, which meets our archival standards, for just this purpose. More advice on saving damaged treasures can be obtained by contacting our preservation officer Ian Batterham on (02) 6212 3424. For information on the treasures box, contact Zetta Florence by telephone 1300 555 124 or fax 1300 555 024, or visit their website at www.zettaflorence.com. after a fire NAA: A1200, L79664 And the winner is ...