GFMC: Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

11 January 2002

Canberra plans national bushfire strategy
(Source and Copyright: The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 January 2001)

The federal government today pledged to co-ordinate a national firefighting strategy as it signed an
$800,000 cheque for two giant helitankers leased from the US.
Acting Prime Minister John Anderson today toured the NSW south coast where 40 homes were lostas an inferno swept through several holiday towns at the height of the state’s bushfire emergency. With three helitankers still dumping their 9,000 litre water loads on the area, Mr Anderson announcedthe federal government would pay for the transport costs of Georgia Peach and the Incredible Hulk,relieving the NSW government of the $800,000 burden. The two helitankers were rushed from the US and have spent the past few days with Elvis the aircraneon loan from Victoria, bringing a huge 45km firefront on the south coast under control.
The federal government also plans to facilitate talks with the states on how best to implement anational aerial firefighting strategy.
“We’re prepared to co-ordinate a national overviewing of the best way to handle the matter of aerialfirefighting,” Mr Anderson said. “If that’s a useful way forward for the states without crossing the boundaries of responsibilities, we’reprepared to help in that way if it can produce better outcomes.”
Mr Anderson said the government was not considering the purchase of a helitanker outright but wasopen to all aerial machinery that would be available to all states during bushfire seasons. “We probably need to do further research on whether they are automatically the best way to go, thebest deployment of resources, but basically they’re the sorts of things we will look at,” he said.
As the crisis in NSW eased and more firefighters were stood down to return to their families and workfor the first time since Christmas Day, Mr Anderson comforted those who lost everything to the worstfire crisis in NSW’s history. Mother of two Heather Hall from Falls Creek was hugged by Mr Anderson as other victims were byPrime Minister John Howard when he toured devastated parts of western Sydney.
A fulltime Rural Fire Service worker, Ms Hall told Mr Anderson volunteers were responsible for savingso many homes in Sussex Inlet at the height of a firestorm. Mr Anderson then put his arm around her and said: “You’re a very gutsy Australian, you really are.And you give those kids a big hug.”
About 600,000 hectares have been burnt out in recent weeks with an arsonist adding 70 hectares tothe tally overnight.  A fire believed to have been deliberately lit overnight in the Brisbane Water National Park on the NSWcentral coast was late today brought under control and limited to 70 hectares, the Rural FireServic said.
To date 33 people have been charged with lighting fires. Extreme conditions forecast for today failed to eventuate and mild conditions over the weekend willallow crews to continue backburning and mopping up.  But with 3,200 kilometres of fire line across the state, it will be weeks before the emergency can bedeclared over.

FireUpdate provided by the NSW Rural Fire Service

Friday, 11January 2002

A Total FireBan is in force for most of New South Wales, except Metropolitan and Riverina.

BlueMountains S44 Declared 1500 24/12/01
LAWSON ROAD: The Lawson Road fire is on patrol status. Air reconnaissance isoccurring.
MT HALL: The Mt Hall fire is now on patrol status. Air reconnaissance isoccurring.
LIMIT HILL WEST FIRE: 24 raft crew (NPWS and TAS) have been inserted intohelipads at the Wolgan River for direct attack and mopping up. Air Ops 2 x waterbombing and air recon, 1 x air attack and ground support. Awaiting up to dateintelligence from air reconnaissance.
Cessnock/Wyong S44 Cessnock declared 1400 24/12/01
Wyong declared 1800 28/12
BIG YANGO FIRE: Air ops undertaking direct attack by water bombing of hot spots.Raft crews to back out active fire edge after water bombing. Dozer consolidatingtrail on j sector. Ground crew investigating possible containment on kilosector. Aerial incendiarism to deepen back burn on eastern containment line infinchley division. This fire still has some potential to run into settled ruraland residential area.

Fire groundhas still not expanded significantly since 8/1/02. Rate of spread for activefire edges are typically less than 500m per day, and in some areas as little asonly 100m per day. High level state readiness is current for areas ofWallabadah, Boree and Laguna and crews are available for rapid response ifrequired. Winch capable rotary wing aircraft are being sourced for closecontainment strategies currently being implemented and further close containmentoptions are being planned for.

Eurobodalla/TallagandaS44 Eurobodalla declared 0700 28/12/01
Tallaganda declared 2030 29/12/01
Donovan Creek (850ha): The Donovan Creek fire is now on patrol status.
DEUA FIRE: Limited potential for containment lines in German creek / Brycesdivisions to be put under pressure by predicted hot, NW conditions today.Topography and associated rotor winds along the Munuma fire trail presentpotential containment and safety threat. Dampier Mountain division stillpresents limited potential threat to containment lines under north westerlyconditions.
Hawkesbury S44 Declared 2300 24/12/01
Vale of Avoca (820ha): The Vale of Avoca fire is now in patrol status.
The Grahams Creek and Limit Hill 2 fires are being controlled.
LIMIT HILL 2 FIRE: Active fire southeast of Mellong creek is running northtowards proposed containment line on Mellong Sector. Backburning along thissector was completed overnight. Small areas of active fire and isolated smokinglogs in Nayook Division east of Bowens Creek still persist at the edge of theburnt ground.
Shoalhaven S44 Declared 1800 24/12/01
HYLANDS FIRE: Weather conditions have been favourable to consolidate &reinforce containment lines. Aircraft including Skycrane being heavilyutlilised.
Heavy aircraft have been bombing in Clyde Gorge, west of Tianjaram nth ofEndrick & Danjera. Property protection has been undertaken on both sides ofHwy sector.
Singleton/Muswellbrook S44 Declared 2000 25/12/01
Swamp Arm: The Swamp Arm fire is now on patrol.
MARTINDALE GROUP FIRE: Indirect attack on some fire areas will see tactics ofpatrol & blackout whilst monitoring previous backburning and aerialincendiary work. Direct attack is being utilised where possible incorporatingthe use of raft crews to black out hot spots along fire edge.
Wollondilly/Campbelltown/Wingecarribee S44
Wollondilly declared 1300 25/12/01
Campbelltown declared 2300 25/12/01
Wingecarribee declared 1400 28/12/01
Belmore Falls(150ha): The Belmore Falls fire is now on patrol status.
Currently the Bellambi (West) (1000ha), Burke River (46000ha) and BurragorangComplex (60,000ha) fires are being controlled.
BELLAMBI (WEST) FIRE: Ground crews are being tasked to black out northern fireedge between Lake Cataract and Allied Colliery and assess other closecontainment options in this area for a possible backburn should this berequired. A dozer line and handtool line being constructed from power line toWallandoola Creek in power line sector. Fire road 8 is being upgraded. Hot spotsat Wallandoola Creek are being extinguished by ground crews with heli support.ground crews will be coming in by foot (1km walk). A further Outbreak hasoccurred at zulusector with crews and heli support directly attacking this fire.
BELOON SOUTH FIRE: Patrol and mop up burnt edge along control lines iscontinuing. Continue backburning in Beh Har Sector. Deepen backburn at NorthWestern end of High Range sector.


Section 44Declarations have been terminated in the following areas:

– Oberon(1900 09/01/02)

There aregoing fires at:

– Blenhein(Oberon)
– Banda Banda (5200ha) (Kempsey)

Thefollowing fires are being controlled:

– Hawkes Knob(2996ha) (Armidale/Dumaresq)
– Byrne Plantation/McKenzies Complex (15000) (Kempsey)
– Paradsie (3644ha) (Walcha)
– Enfield range Road (34700ha) (Taree)

Thefollowing fires have been contained:

– Blenham(Oberon)
– Sawers (100ha) (Hastings)

Patrolstatus has been allocated to fires at

– BillinudgelNature Reserve (155ha) (Byron)
– Angle Gap (1725ha) (Gilgandra)
– Wassels (1800ha) (Gloucester)
– Waterfall Royal NP (15030ha)(Sutherland)
– Bagnoo Hills (300ha) (Hastings)
– Two Mile (3000ha) (Mudgee)
– Claggers Spring (28320ha) (Narromine)
– Thurloo (56ha) (Quirindi)
– Ewingar (600ha) (Copmanhurst)
– Spencer (12800ha) (Gosford)
– Richard¡¦s Crossing (1085ha) (Kempsy)
– Stafford Wells Road (2500ha) (Narrabri)
– Scabby Jack (20ha) (Cabonne)
– Barton Reserve (205ha) (Cabonne)
– Covi (900ha) (Hastings)
– Tunnel Road (100ha) (Hastings)
– Lockmarie (16250ha) (Oberon)
– Government Rd (2ha)(Lake Macquarie)
– Wakefield (2ha) (Lake Macquarie)
– Oaky Gap (5107ha) (Armidale/Dumaresq)


79 aircraftwere to be deployed today as under

– BlueMountains: 5
– Cessnock: 4
– Coffs Harbour: 1
– Dorrigo Plateau Area: 1
– Eurobodalla: 12
– Evans: 2
– Hawkesbury: 13
– Line Scan: 1
– Northern Tablelands: 1
– Oberon: 3
– Region East: 1
– Shoalhaven: 8
– Singleton: 6
– Taree: 1
– Task Force Alpha: 3
– Task Force Bravo: 2
– Task Force Charlie: 3
– Task Force Delta: 2
– Wollondilly: 7
– Wollongong: 3


– Total FireBans are in place for the all of the State.

Friday: A cold front passed throughMelbourne, Swan Hill and Broken Hill around 1500 hours Friday. It is expected tobe near the Central Tablelands, Southern Tablelands and South Coast earlymorning. Very hot and dry westerly winds with extreme fire danger over theinland and tablelands this afternoon. Coastal areas will experience hot andhumid conditions with onshore winds and very high fire danger. Chance of showersalong the NSW/Victorian border, the Southern Tablelands and south coastassociated with the front.
Thefront will move through the NE of the State. Dry west/southwesterly winds aheadof and following the front are expected to maintain extreme fire danger over theslopes, tablelands, Hunter, Mid-North Coast and Northern Rivers. Coastal areassouth of the Hunter can expect milder conditions with southeast winds. Chance ofshowers and thunderstorms in the NE of the State. Clearing showers about theremainder of the coast.
A troughof low pressure will develop over NE NSW. Southwest winds and very high firedanger are expected over the central and northern inland. NE/SE winds and milderconditions on the coast. Isolated showers about the north coast and adjacentranges.
: A troughwill extend over the NSW slopes. Warm to hot and dry southerly winds over theinland. Milder SE winds over the coast and ranges. No rainfall expected.
: Thetrough will shift into western NSW/SA. Light winds in western and central areas.Northerly winds over the slopes and tablelands tending NE on the coast. A fewafternoon showers about the NW Slopes and Plains.

Fire Weather Forecast for the Pacific Region

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Fire Weather Index for the
Pacific Region for 12 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, 11 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 (News).

ModisLand Rapid Response System

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click here to enlarge (2080 KB)

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):

click to enlarge (245 KB) click to enlarge (245 KB)

Fig. 5.Satellite image, 8 and 10 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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