GFMC: Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

10 January 2002

WA calls for national bushfires policy
(Source and copyright: The West Australian)

THE WA Government has asked Prime Minister JohnHoward to develop a national bushfire policy as a result of the bushfire devastation in NSW.
Acting Premier Eric Ripper said today it was ironic that Australia had an agreement to provide firefightingassistance to the United States but did not have a nationally coordinated bushfire strategy.
Mr Ripper has written to Mr Howard saying Australia needs a more coordinated approach to the strategiclocation of bushfire resources – including a $15 million helicopter water bomber which Mr Howard has saidcould be based in WA.
“While I welcome Mr Howard’s reported comment that an Aircrane could be based in WA, fire management agencies in WA have evaluated several other aerial firefighting techniques that would be effective underAustralian conditions.” Mr Ripper said he had been advised there may be more cost-effective alternatives than the Aircrane.He believes a committee should be formed to coordinate the development of a national policy on bushfires and firefighting resources in consultationwith relevant federal government agencies. The committee should comprise members of the Australasian Fire Authorities Council and landmanagement agencies in Australia and New Zealand, Mr Ripper said. -AAP

Fire crisis not over – danger day tomorrow
(Source & Copyright: The Sydney Morning Herald)

The bushfire crisis is not over and crucial containment work needs to be completed as soon as possible in preparation for worsening weather conditions, the Rural Fire Service warned yesterday.
“We are not out of the danger zone as far as fires are concerned yet,” said anRFS spokesman, Cameron Wade. Strong westerly winds and high temperatures were expected to causeproblems tomorrow, he said. Mr Wade dismissed suggestions that delays in getting the two extra EricksonAir-Cranes into the air yesterday morning had resulted in a flare-up in the Shoalhaven area.
“Some briefing needed to take place for the pilots from New Zealand … thatbriefing took longer than expected. Certainly that has not impacted greatly on fire containment, and all three aircraft are now working in the area.”
Eighty fires are still burning in the state, 80 per cent of them withincontainment lines. Mr Wade said the fire at Sussex Inlet, where residents were evacuated earlierthis week, remained of the greatest concern, along with the fire in the Appin region. Firefighters had struggled to contain the Appin fire, Mr Wade said, because thefire was encroaching upon rough terrain that made fighting the blaze difficult. He scotched concerns that Nowra was under threat, but said the fire near thetown had “progressed further than expected”. A fire burning about five kilometres from property at Bilpin, north-west ofSydney, was also being closely watched. Roads remain closed in places around the Shoalhaven region because of fallentrees and power lines and police are escorting traffic through affected sectionsof the Princes Highway.

Fire crews  confident south coast towns safe from blaze
Source and Copyright: ABC News)

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) is confident a bushfire in the Shoalhaven region in thestate’s south will not encroach on any more towns in the region. The bushfire is still burning on a 45 kilometre front, with morethan 550 firefighters and 11 aircraft being used to battle the blaze today.
RFS regional Superintendent Peter Ryan says firefighters are continuing to closely monitor one fire at Sassafras, south-west ofNowra. However, he says unless the wind changes direction tomorrow, the bushfire should not threaten the Nowra township. “It’s a fair way out, we have crews there but again they’re workingwith air support to ensure that those places are protected,” he said. If anything does get away they can jump on it straight away andensure that farms in that little village is fully protected.”
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner, Phil Koperberg, says firefighters hope to have nearly all of the firesstill burning across the state contained over the weekend. He says of the 80 fires scattered across New South Wales, around64 are within containment lines. Apart from the Shoalhaven, the Cataract catchment fires in theIllawarra, and blazes in the Nattai, south-west of Sydney and Bulga in the Hunter Valley, continue to keepfirefighters busy. Commissioner Koperberg says despite the encouraging signs, thereis a big difference between contained and out.
“Contained simply means that the spread of fire has been halted but that the fires are still burning withincontainment lines and that the areas have not been mopped up,” he said.
“And it’s the mopping up process which is extraordinarily time consuming.” Meanwhile, the National Parks and Wildlife Service is warning peopleto stay away from bushfire affected areas of the Royal National Park south of Sydney which re-opens tomorrow.
A number of picnic areas and beaches will be open to the public,although all walking trails will remain closed due to a park-wide total fire ban. Director for the region Bob Conroy says heavy fines will be imposed ifpeople enter areas of the park which remain closed.
“I would warn people against that,” he said. “There’s a great danger that trees that have been damaged by the firemay fall over in the next couple of weeks.”
The New South Wales Government has announced new measures to increase protection for the community against bushfires. Under the changes, local councils will be required to consult theRural Fire Service on any development proposals for bushfire prone areas.  The Rural Fire Service is also getting greater powers to enter lands tocarry out hazard reduction operations required under the local bushfire plan but not carried out, and that will be at the landholder’sexpense.
Emergency Services Minister Bob Debus says as well, anyone who believes their property is at risk and their local bushfire committeehas not addressed their concerns, will be able to take the matter up directly with the commissioner.


Today is not a day of total fire ban.

Fire Weather Forecast for the Pacific Region

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Fire Weather Index for the
Pacific Region for 11 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, 10 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

ModisLand Rapid Response System

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Fig.4. These images were acquired by theModerate-resolution Imaging
Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor on 10 January 2002 and shows
fires burning in the Southeast and Northeast of Australia. For details see:
and image search support at:
(For earlier satellite images: see Australia fire updates off 30
December 2001 – 9 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, 8 and 9 January 2002.
Heat signatures (red) and smoke plumes (off white) are visible extending out over the Tasman Sea from fires burning around Sydney, Australia. This image was provided by
Dr. Lee Hong from an Australian Bureau of Meteorology direct readout station. (Left)
Smoke (indicated by the yellow arrows) is visible from fires burning south of Sydney, Australia.
(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:
Northern Territory High in the Alice Springs District. Western Australia CENTRAL WEST Very High  LOWER WEST Very High CENTRAL WHEATBELT Very High GREAT SOUTHERN Very High SOUTHWEST Very High SOUTH COASTAL Very High TOWN OF PORT HEDLAND Very High SHIRE OF ROEBOURNE Very High SHIRE OF ASHBURTON Very High SHIRE OF EAST PILBARA Very High KIMBERLEY High

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

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