GFMC: Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

9 January 2002

Wednesday, 9 January 2002


  • Land burnt: More than 570,000ha

  • Total fire perimeter: More than 3270km

  • Fires burning: More than 80


Fire turned north-east by winds of up to 50kmh towards an area west ofBendalong. Two new helitankers, Georgia Peach and The Incredible Hulk, arrivedlate afternoon to support Elvis.
Residents allowed back to Berrara, Lake Conjola, Conjola Park and Cudmirrah.Last night, up to 400 residents were allowed back to Fishermans Paradise.Princes Highway closed again mid-afternoon from Sussex Inlet Road to Conjola.Restricted access to Princes Highway between Sussex Inlet Road and Conjola lastnight.
Uncontained last night. Fires active in hills west of Moruya. Firefightersworking to hold firebreaks on eastern front. Concern that dry, gusty winds mayforce crews to abandon fire lines.
Orange region 
Fire in Cabonne area – started by lightning strikes five kilometres east ofMount Canobolas – contained last night. More than 200 firefighters on duty. Morethan 200ha burnt out.
Cessnock/Wyong and Bulga/Martindale
Fire in the Yengo National Park, near Cessnock, remained uncontrolled lastnight, posing a threat to properties south and west of Boree and Hunter area.Efforts to join that fire with the Bulga fire, in the Singleton region,continued.


Mopping up under way last night, with hotspots under observation.
Concern that Appin Road fire could spread to properties at Bulli Topsyesterday due to southerly winds, dry conditions and temperatures in the low30s.
Fires still active, but being controlled last night.


  • Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park (except the West Head Peninsula)

  • Lane Cove National Park (except burnt areas)

  • Garigal National Park

  • Bouddi National Park

  • Wyrrabalong National Park

  • Brisbane Water National Park

  • Munmorah State Recreation Area (except areas burnt by bushfires)

  • Georges River National Park


Totalfire ban statewide, excluding the Sydney metropolitan area and the CentralTablelands.

Firefightersgain upper hand
Wednesday 9January 2002
(Source& Copyright: The Sydney Morning Herald)
Firefighters appearedto gain the upper hand in the NSW bushfire crisis today as a royal visit broughtcheer to some of the victims whose homes were reduced to smouldering rubble.Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, was briefed on the devastation beforeinspecting it first hand at Cross Street, Warrimoo in the Blue Mountains where12 homes were wiped out on Boxing Day alone. Accompanied by Governor-GeneralPeter Hollingworth, Premier Bob Carr and Rural Fire Service Commissioner PhilKoperberg, the prince likened the firefighting effort to war.
“I mean this is a war basically that you’re actually trying to bring themaximum number of people to bear on a particular fire at a particular time inorder to reduce that particular threat and then go on to the next one,” hesaid.
Residents described him as a down-to-earth bloke one would feel comfortablesaying g’day to on the golf course. While Prince Andrew was exchanging storieswith the residents of Cross Street, the three giant orange helitankers weredumping their water loads on a 45km fire-front on the state’s south coast aftera brief delay. Though residents and holidaymakers were keen to see Elvis, TheIncredible Hulk and Georgia Peach in action early this morning, crews wererequired to attend a safety briefing before being deployed. While the crews werebeing briefed, a fire in the Moreton National Park gained some ground, althoughMr Koperberg described the impact as minimal.
“The breach of the fire which took place was not significant,” hesaid.
“I spoke a few moments ago to the incident controller, he is satisfied thathe hasn’t lost considerable ground.
“It would have been far worse if these aircraft had been thrown into thefray and something had gone wrong as a result of them not being briefedproperly.”
Cooler temperatures, higher humidity and low winds today allowed firefighters toassert control over many of the 80 fires still burning across the state. Whilemost were burning within containment lines, the large Bulga and Yengo firesnorth-west of Sydney were expected to join in the next day or so. However, thefocus would continue to be on the south coast where 13 aircraft were assistingthe three Erickson Air-Cranes enabling ground crews to move in and put an end tothe fire which has for two weeks threatened property. With the forecast onFriday for temperatures in the high 30s, wind gusts of 40kph and low humidity,the crisis was far from over.

Fire Weather Forecast for the Pacific Region

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Fire Weather Index for the
Pacific Region for 10 January 2002.
(Source: ECPC Fire Weather Index Forecast)

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 9 January 2002 shows 8 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, 9 January 2002
(for legend of symbols see: National Resources and Environment)

Bird Satellite (German AerospaceCenter / DLR)

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Figure 1 and 2show image fragments of the BIRD HSRS MIR
band (at 3.4 – 4.2 µm) obtained over Australia / New South Wales regionat
~ 150° longitude East between the South latitudes 33° and 36° on 4 January2002 at
00 h:09 min:13 sec (UTC) and on 5 January 2002 at 00 h:08 min:16 sec (UTC)for
Sydney  overpass, respectively. (This is of about 10:08 h local time). Thefires are red color
coded to be  in good contrast to the “ambient” black  and whitebackground with apparent
pixel  temperatures lower than 52° C (325 K). The changes of the firelines within 24 hours
can be well examined by comparison of the two figures.

Some remarks on BIRD´sdetection  of  the “Cristmas Fires”.

For more information on BIRD: See

Australian Centre for Remote Sensing (ACRES)

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Fig.3. SPOT Image acquired 8 January 2002 by the Australian Centre for
Remote Sensing (ACRES), Geoscience Australia. © CNES 2002.
For details see:

ModisLand Rapid Response System

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Fig.4. This image was acquired by theModerate-resolution Imaging
Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor on 8 January 2002 and shows
fires burning in the Northwest of Australia. For details see:
and image search support at:
(For earlier satellite images: see Australia fire updates off 30
December 2001 – 8 February 2002)

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.Satellite image, 1 January 2002.
Smoke (indicated by the yellow arrows) is visible over the Tasman Sea from fires burning
south of Sydney, Australia. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, more than 80 blazes
are still burning as of Tuesday.
(Source: OSEI/NOAA)

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Fig. 6.Satellite image, 7 January 2002.
Heat signatures (red) and smoke plumes (off white) are visible extending out over the Tasman
Sea from fires burning around of Sydney, Australia. This image was provided
by Dr. Lee Hong from an Australian Bureau of Meteorology direct readout station.
(Source: OSEI/NOAA)

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Fig. 7.Satellite image, 8 January 2002.
Smoke (indicated by the yellow arrows) is visible over the Tasman Sea from fires burning
south of Sydney, Australia. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, more than 80 blazes
are still burning as of Tuesday.
(Source: OSEI/NOAA)

The Age Company
An animated map “The trail of Destruction” generated by The Age Company (2001) shows the development of fires starting on Boxing Day 2001:

CSA RADARSAT-1 Disaster Watch 

CSA RADARSAT-1 Disaster Watch offers the following scenes covering the Australia fires:

  •  02 Jan 02 08:36:29 UTC; S1; cycle 93 orbit 184.89987 duration 0.00900; OBR -GSS orbit 186.3128)

  •  03 Jan 02 19:21:21 UTC; S2; cycle 93 orbit 205.59160 duration 0.00900; OBR -GSS orbit 207.0713)

  •  05 Jan 02 08:48:54 UTC; F3N-16; cycle 93 orbit 227.89808 duration 0.00910; OBR -GSS orbit 229.3107)

  •  07 Jan 02 19:04:47 UTC; F4; cycle 93 orbit 262.59390 duration 0.00883; OBR -GSS orbit 264.00652)

For more information see:

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:

Latest News on Forest Fires in Australia:

  • see: Recent Media Highlights on Fire, Policies, and Politics:

  • Daily updated archive of fire news and reports, starting 26 December 2001(published by The Sydney Morning Herald):

  • 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
Source: The Sun-Herald/The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 January 2002.

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It only takes a spark … A firefighter lights a backburn near the small town of Bilpin as cooler than predicted weather conditions enabled fire crews to put in containment lines around some of the 80 fires burning. Photo: William West/AFP.

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Nothing left … Dai Rimmer surveys the ruins of her home in Paterson Rd, Springwood. Photo: Rick Stevens.
For a detailed story (“Dear arsonist, wish you were here to see my pain” – by Dai Rimmer) see:

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Scramble … A fireman escapes a backburn fire along the Great Western highway in Lawson which rapidly escalated. Photo: Sean Davey.

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Smoke on the water … John Patterson from Mollymook Surf Life Saving Club jumps from the boat followed by Bruce O’Sullivan to put out fires on the shores of Lake Berringer, south of Bendalong. Photo: Paul Harris.

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Battling on … Yellow Rock residents fight flames before the brigades can respond. Photo: Nick Moir.

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Hear our prayer … The Lawson Metro Brigade wait behind a sign made by residents. Photo: Sean Davey.

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Backburning … As backburning operations continue along the edge of the Great Western Highway between Lawson and Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains, Steven Barratt from Katoomba forces his way through thick smoke to contain a fire. Photo: Sean Davey.

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Containment … Firefighters back burn from the Great Western Highway near Lawson. Photo: Rick Stevens.

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