GFMC: Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

6 January 2002

Fromthe NSW Rural Fire Service
Sunday, 6 January 2002 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


TheCommissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service has declared a Total Fire Ban in thefollowing Weather Forecast Districts:


Theweather forecast for this area is very high temperature, low humidity andmoderate to strong winds. These conditions are conducive to fire activity andthe community is urged to take particular care.
Fire danger in this area will be extreme or approaching extreme.
Sunday, 6 January 2002 – A Total Fire Ban remains in force for all of New SouthWales.


Wollongong/KiamaShellharbour S44
Wollongong declared 1600 25/12/01
Wingecarribee declared 2200 25/12/01
Kiama Shellharbour declared 2000 27/12/01
CATARACT FIRE: There was little change to status overnight. Backburns wereconducted to south and north of Picton Road and preparation for backburn onnorthwestern flank of the fire was undertaken.
APPIN ROAD FIRE: There is some risk of this fire moving north to cross the AppinRoad. Containment lines are being strengthened.
The BURKE RIVER fire is being controlled using water bombing and groundresources.
Blue Mountains S44 Declared 1500 24/12/01
MT HALL FIRE: The fire is currently creating concern for houses on the southernside of the Great Western Highway.
Backburning along the southern side of the Great Western Highway in a westerlydirection is proceeding well. This backburning is behind houses at Hazelbrookand Lawson to Ridge Street near Blue Mountains Golf Course.
Backburning is also being conducted along Kings Tableland Road. There is activefire south of Hazelbrook and Lawson however large hazard reduction done inOctober 2001 may assist in the containment strategy. No spotting has occurred onthe north side of Great Western Highway. Backburning has occurred today aroundBlaxland and Wentworth Falls. Southerly winds could drive fire over to WentworthFalls and Bullaburra areas but fire would have to proceed through the hazardreduction to do this. Units are being placed for potential property protectionat Wentworth Falls, Hazelbrook and Woodford.
Baulkham Hills/Hornsby/Ku-ring-gai Declared 2200 3/01/02
Fireground at Pennant Hills Park being patrolled.
Shoalhaven S44 Declared 1800 24/12/01
Total area burnt by the Hylands Complex and Inyadda fires is 50000ha.
Backburning in the area has been assisted by southerly winds. Yarramunmun Gorgefire has broken away and spreading westward towards Sassafras through StoneyHill and Boalijah Creek districts. Fire is therefore moving into other gorgecountry – spreading into unexploded ordnance area on enclosed military groundswith limited accessibility.
Plans are to contain the fire North of 12 mile road.
Southern portion of fire appears to have good containment. Bendalong backburningand containment has been completed and southerlies are assisting status nearFishermans Paradise. No direct threat to properties. Yalwal section to the northalso being backburned. Effective containment lines have been established withinJervis Bay area (Commonwealth territory).
Cessnock/Wyong S44 Cessnock declared 1400 24/12/01
Wyong declared 1800 28/12
BIG YANGO: The western edge of the fire continues to remain within containmentlines. There are concerns about fire movement tomorrow into the areas of Boreeand towards Wollombi should weather conditions deteriorate. Crews are beingtasked to strengthen containment lines especially in the South East corner ofthe fire.
Oberon/Mulwaree S44 Oberon declared 2000 24/12/01
Mulwaree declared 2000 25/12/01
LOCH MARIE FIRE: All sectors of this fire have now been contained. Somepotential exists for the fire to move into national park areas creatingprincipally environmental risk. The fire has some potential to move in asoutherly direction if winds pick up from the north. The fire has crossed theMurruin Creek. Crews are patrolling existing containment lines
A series of containment lines are being put in place to protect properties tothe south and east of the fire. All perimeters are being patrolled.
Hawkesbury S44 Declared 2300 24/12/01
The Limit Hill and Limit Hill 2 fires have been renamed as a single fire –Limit Hill.
LIMIT HILL: Significant property threat exists on the Upper Colo Road and PuttyRoad including Wheelbarrow Ridge Rd. Current weather trends also allow for riskto residents on the eastern aspect of the fire. The Upper Colo area is ofparticular concern at this time.
A new threat now exists for the settled areas of Mount Irvine, Mount Tootie andMountain Lagoon.
Current weather trends also introduce the potential for risk to residents to thesouth of Mt Tootie, Mt Irvine and Bilpin.
Property protection is the principle aim of fire fighting currently.Firefighters are implementing property protection strategies on the Northern andSouthern side of Colo Heights, Wheelbarrow Ridge Rd, The Putty Rd SE of ColoHeights, and N of Tinda Creek. There are reports of 2 shed and 1 vehicle beinglost in the last 24 hours. It is unlikely that the fire will reach properties onthe Northern side of the Hawkesbury River within the next 48 hours. The broadcontainment strategy is to contain the fire to the North of the Colo River andWest of the McDonald River.
GRAHAMS CREEK (Kurrajong) FIRE: The fire continues to threaten the areas ofBowen Mountain along Bells Line of Road. Further threat may occur to KurrajongHeights and Bowen Mountain Village if weather conditions deteriorate.
Fire crews are continuing to concentrate their efforts on property protectionand preparing containment lines.
Gosford S44 Declared 1700 25/12/01
The Spencer fire is contained. Fire has minimal potential for movement and crewsare concentrating on containment strategies.
A fire at KARIONG is being controlled.
The Rumbulara fire is still at patrol status.
Kulnura and Peats Ridge fires are still being patrolled.
Wollondilly/Campbelltown/Wingecarribee S44
Wollondilly declared 1300 25/12/01
Campbelltown declared 2300 25/12/01
Wingecarribee declared 1400 28/12/01
BURRAGORANG COMPLEX FIRE (NATTAI): This fire continues to cause concern forproperties to the south of Oakdale along Oakdale and Barker’s Lodge Rd.Containment lines are being strengthened today and are expected to be secure bythe evening.
To the west the fire is advancing towards Lake Burragorang. Additionalcontainment lines are being developed and are expected to be in place by thisevening.
Containment lines are also being implemented in the Mt Flora and Crags and HighRange areas to protect Colo Vale and Mittagong.
Sutherland S44 Declared 2300 25/12/01
The fire near Waterfall has remained within containment lines since 1 January.The fire at Otford/Helensburg is active and burning down to the Hacking River.Crews today will concentrate on holding established control lines.
Grafton/Pristine Waters/Maclean (Clarence Valley) Copmanhurst S44
Declared 0600 24/12/01
CANGAI EAST: There are no human assets currently at risk from this fire howevercontainment strategies are being developed to reduce the impact on the bushenvironment.
The SERENDIPITY fire is currently being controlled.
Eurobodalla/Tallaganda S44 Eurobodalla declared 0700 28/12/01
Tallaganda declared 2030 29/12/01
OUALLA CREEK FIRE: Prevailing weather conditions at the Oualla Creek firecontinue to apply pressure to control lines along the eastern perimeter. Therewill be direct threat to life and property if the fire crosses containment linesand spreads east towards Moruya. There is a plan for expanded control lines inthe SW fire perimeter of the fire, with aerial and dozer support. Crews willwork today on maintaining established control lines.
The Boyne SF fire is considered contained.
Narrabri S44 Declared 1000 02/01/02
STAFFORD ROAD FIRE: This fire continues to have low potential for movement andis continuing to be contained and patrolled.
Warringah/Pittwater S 44 Pre-emptively declared 1700 01/01/02
Kempsey S 44 declared 1300 04/01/02
BYRNES PLANTATION: The Byrnes Plantation fire is currently threateningproperties on McKenzie’s Creek Rd, and Carria Rd with potential to spread toCarri, Willi Willi, Haydonville, and Kookaburra. Crews will focus on propertyprotection and the establishment of containment lines to the west.
BANDA BANDA: The Banda Banda fire is currently being monitored but carriespotential to move into the Oxley Rivers NP and Yessabah SF.
RICHARDSON’s CROSSING: This fire is currently threatening farmland E ofBeranghi Rd. Crews will be working to establish containment lines by 1800hrstoday.
The TABBYS LANE and FISHERMANS REACH first are on patrol status.


Section44 Declarations have been terminated in the following areas:

RichmondValley (1600 03/01/02)
Narromine/Cabbonne (1900 03/01/02)
Lane Cove/Ryde (2000 03/01/02)

Thereare going fires at:

EnfieldRange (60ha) (Taree)
The following fires are being controlled:
Wassels (1000ha) (Gloucester)
Hawkes Knob (Armidale)
Paradise (Walcha)
The following fires have been contained:
Covi (900ha) (Hastings)
Oaky gap (Armidale)

‘Patrol’status has been allocated to fires at:

HargravesRoad and Two Mile (3000)(Mudgee)
Swan Bay (Port Stephens)
Scabby Jack (Cabonne)
Claggers Spring (Narromine)
Nutt Road (Penrith)
Melrose (Yarrowlumla)
Tanyia (Great Lakes)
Jerrara Road and Pylara (Mulwaree)
Plumb Road, Pilliga SF (Narrabri)
Angel Gap (Gilgandra)
Billinudgel Nature Reserve and Minyon Falls (210ha) (Byron)
Belmore Falls (Wingecarribee)
Kulnura and Peats Ridge ( Gosford)
Wallaby Lane (Maclean)
Red Mill Road (Kempsey)
Yackerboon (Cobar)
Hinxman Road (Castlereagh)
Bangalow Road and Enfield Road (Taree)
South Greenbank (Young)


83aircraft will be deployed today as under
Armidale: 1Baulkham Hills: Blue Mountains: 6Cessnock: 2Coffs Harbour:1Commissioner: 1Dorrigo Plateau:
1Eurobodalla: 13GIS: 1 Gosford: 4Grafton: 3Hawkesbury: 8Kempsey: 1Lines Scan:1Narromine: 1Oberon: 4
Shoalhaven: 12Singleton: 5Task Force Alpha: 3Task Force Bravo: 2Task ForceCharlie: 2Wollondilly: 5Wollongong: 3


TotalFire Bans are in place for all areas of the State.
Monday Winds S-SW behind westerly change. Winds NW in NE corner of state.
Tuesday Winds SW to WSW.
Wednesday Southerlies in the W of the State. SE winds on the Coast.
Thursday Winds S-SSW though most of NSW. SE on the coast.


MondayChance of isolated showers through north and east of state  contracting NSW ahead of a westerlychange.
Tuesday Showers/thunderstorms likely in NE corner, otherwise dry
Wednesday Dry
Thursday Dry

Australianfire to cost insurers more than A$70m
Source: Financial Times, 4 January 2002 (extract of report)

The costto insurers of the bushfires in New South Wales has already reached A$70m(US$36m)  and, with no end to thecrisis in sight, is expected to escalate further. The Insurance DisasterResponse Organisation (IDRO) said on Thursday that some 2,000 claims had alreadybeen lodged, double the number in the state’s last bushfire crisis in 1994 whendamages reached A$56m.
About 170 homes have been burnt down so far, as well as some 200 other buildingsand about 50 caravans, cars and boats. But even more damage is expected giventhat, as of Thursday night, fires with fronts totalling 2,000km were stillburning across the state and, although conditions had improved, there was noimmediate prospect of rain or cool weather. An area equivalent to double greaterLondon has already been destroyed.
“Given the amount of fire activity that we have, conditions are not easingto the extent we would like to see. There is no rain in sight,” the fireservice said. Bob Debus, the NSW emergency services minister, said efforts tocontrol the fires has already cost “tens of millions of dollars”. Some60 aircraft and 20,000 personnel are involved in fighting the fires, about athird of them in support capacities, with 8,000 firefighters, many of themvolunteers, on the ground at any one time. New Zealand has also offered to sendfirefighters while the NSW government said on Wednesday it would buy two morewaterbombing air crane helicopters, on top of the one that has already beendeployed. The new equipment would arrive in about five days time.
Although the fire has penetrated suburbs of Sydney, it is unlikely to spreadinto densely populated parts of the city where there is less vegetation.Australia’s eucalypts and other native plants that burn easily have beenfuelling the blaze. Areas in the Blue Mountains to Sydney’s west remained onhigh alert on Wednesday night while a naval base was also in danger.
The weather bureau is predicting better conditions in the next two days before areturn to extreme fire danger on Sunday and Monday.

Fire Weather Forecast for the Pacific Region

Fire Weather Index for the
Pacific Region for 7 January 2002.
(Source: ECPC Fire Weather Index Forecast)

Fire Locations 

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Fire Locations in the Sydney
Region, 1 January 2002

Fire Locations in NSW,
1 January 2002

Sorry, no current information / maps available for 6 January 2002.
Source: New South Wales Rural Fire Service

The Department of Natural Resources and Environment is responsible for the management of fire prevention and suppression on public lands in Victoria. The last updated bushfire statistic of 5 January 2002 shows 12 controlled fires. The locations of these fires are displayed in the statewide fire situation map below.

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Fig.2. Statewide Fire Situation Map of Victoria, 6 January 2002
(for legend of symbols see: National Resources and Environment)

Nasa´s Earthobservatory

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View on Australia’s fires on 5 January 2002

Fig.3. These images were acquired by
Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor on 5 January 2002.
For details see:
(For earlier satellite images: see Australia fire update of 30 December 2001)

Operational Significant Event Imagery (OSEI)
The following significant events were identified by Satellite Analysis Branch meteorologists and reviewed by the OSEI support team of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):

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Fig. 5.GOES 8 satellite image, 4 January 2002.
This GMS Channel 1 image shows smoke plumes (indicated by the yellow arrows) over the
Tasman Sea from fires burning around Sydney, Australia. No lives have been
lost, but more than 160 houses have been destroyed north, west, and south of Sydney
according to USA Today. As of Thursday, about 20,000 firefighters were battling
(Source: OSEI/NOAA)

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology is the National Meteorological Service for Australia and provides essential meteorological services to all sectors of the Australian community.

Fire danger:
Northern Territory High in the Alice Springs

Latest News on Forest Fires in Australia: see: Recent Media Highlights on Fire, Policies, and Politics:
Bushfire set to worsen according to weekand weather predictions (published by ABC News Online)
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service is urging people living under threat of bushfires to remain vigilant despite today´s respite in conditions.

Australia livestock, crops escape worst of fires (published by PlanetArk)
Fires killed about 5,000 sheep and about 100 cattle in the past two days, but crops, mainly wheat, had beeen harvested before the fires hit, the New South Wales Farmers Association told yesterday.

Australian officials fear fires will flare again (published by PlanetArk)
The blazes could flare again with a return of high temperatures and strong winds over the weekend.

NSW Ablaze – several articles (published by The Sun-Herald/The Sydney Morning Herald)

Burning questions after week aflame (published by The Sun-Herald/The Sydney Morning Herald)

Canadian Erickson Air-Crane Helitanker from Victoria to attack N.S.W. fires (published by The Sun-Herald/The Sydney Morning Herald)

“Elvis” – ein Hubschrauber rettet Leben, in German (published by Deutsche Presse Agentur)

 Australian fires burn from mountains to sea (published by Environmental News Network)

Extra fire crews called in as bushfires continue  to rage (published by ABC News Online)

For regular fire update information: See Website of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service:

The Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC) has offered assistance to liaise Australian fire authorities with Global Emergency Response and the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations (EMERCOM). Russia offers the services of the Ilyushin 76, the largest water bomber currently available (42,000 litre tank), for international use. The NSW fire authorities have been notified by the offer.
For more information on Global Emergency Response see
and click on Global Emergency Response.

For more information on Australia see the IFFN country notes and have a look at the Australian and New Zealand links.
For background Information see also: Recent Media Highlights on Fire, Policies, and Politics

Photo Gallery

Air saviour … A helicopter drops water on a new fire in Blaxland in the Blue Mountains. High winds and hot temperatures saw fires in NSW develop rapidly yesterday. Photo: Sean Davey.
Source: The Sun-Herald/The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 January 2002.

Firefighters Lindsay William and Shane Slack control a backburn at Russell Avenue, Valley Heights. Photo: Sean Davey.
Source: The Sun-Herald/The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 January 2002.

Long way to help … NSW Rural firefighter Bob Berg from Temora, Western NSW, controls a backburn operation in Angophora street, Valley Heights.
Photo: Sean Davey.
Source: The Sun-Herald/The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 January 2002.

Hazard reduction in a hotspot between Picton and Buxton, south-west of
Sydney. Photo: Jacky Ghossein.
Source: The Sun-Herald/The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 January 2002.

New South Wales and Victorian Rural Fire Service crews watch and plot the
path of the bushfires burning west of Hill Top. Photo: Nick Moir.
Source: The Sun-Herald/The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 January 2002.

Rural firefighter Ron Hale keeps an eye on backburning near Oystershell
Road, Mangrove Creek, near Spencer. Photo: Rick Stevens.
Source: The  Sun-Herald/The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 January 2002.

The front … A large fire burns through the Nattai National Park near Mittagong in the Southern Highlands. More than 15,000 firefighters, from NSW and interstate, supported by 800 trucks and 55 aircrafts are battling the fires which surround Sydney. Photo: AFPTom.
Source: The Sun-Herald/The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 January 2002.

Bushfires burn extremely close to homes in Pennant Hills.
Photo: Penny Bradfield.
Source: The Sun-Herald/The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 January 2002.

The danger is evident from this aerial shot. Photo: Penny Bradfield.
Source: The Sun-Herald/The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 January 2002.

Elvis the helicopter working against a blood red sky in Maquarie Park.
Photo: Nick Moir.
Source: The Sun-Herald/The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 January 2002.

The fire in Pennant Hills being doused by the Erikson skycrane.
Photo: Penny Bradfield.
Source: The Sun-Herald/The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 January 2002.

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