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.
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.
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.
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: http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/products_rr.html and image search support at: http://www.uni-freiburg.de/fireglobe/current/MODIS.htm (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):
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 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
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 http://www.uni-freiburg.de/fireglobe/emergency/contacts.htm and click on Global Emergency Response.