GFMC: Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

16 January 2002

Current Situation: NSW bushfire crisis declaredover
(Source and Copyright:  ABCNews Online, 16 January 2002)

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service (RFS) has declared the state’sbushfire disaster over.  The 24 day crisis, which is one the the longest firefighting campaigns in the state’shistory, saw 100 fires destroy 120 properties. RFS Commissioner Phil Koperberg says volunteers will continue to mop up thosefires still smouldering across the state. “That which remains uncontained will be the focus of extensive resourcingprincipally by RFS firefighters and land management agencies,” Mr Koperberg said. “We’ve got many days yet of work to do to source hot spots and to extinguish them.”

Rain douses fires

The RFS says overnight rain had a substantial impact on the bushfires, with 40millimetres fallen directly on to the fire front at Shoalhaven. Rain has also helped contain blazes in the Hawkesbury, the Bulga and Yengo NationalParks in the Hunter region and further north between Coffs Harbour and Grafton. Lightning sparked a number of fires at both Gloucester and Kempsey but crews areconfident today’s milder weather conditions will help to contain them. Aerial surveillance of the affected areas is currently underway to get a better pictureof the rain’s impact but spokesman Cameron Wade says there is still a lot of work tobe done. “The rain doesn’t put out fires – it’s very similar to waterbombing where you still needground crews to go in and totally put a fire out,” he said. “But what it has done is, it has quietened the fire fronts down enough that we can nowactually look at putting crews in the front line of the fires and actually starting themopping up operations and strengthening the containment lines around these fires,”he said.Flooding in the region near Wollongong and Kiama last night forced the evacuationof about 35 people from caravan parks and a camping site on a beach near Gerringong. Around Sydney, the strong winds and rain have damaged homes and knocked down powerlines, particularly around Liverpool, Hornsby, Penrith and the Hawkesbury. A house at Leonay near Penrith in Sydney’s west has been destroyed after it was
struck by lightning during the overnight storms. No residents were injured but a firefighter has been taken to hospital with an eyeinjury received while fighting the blaze. A spokesman for the SES Peter O’Neil has advised property owners finding damagethis morning to seek assistance: “if they can report it to their nearest SES unit on 132500”.

South coast

On the state’s far south coast, there has been substantial rain overnight across muchof the Deua National Park, where a big bushfire has been burning for more than amonth. Falls of at least 30 millimetres have been received along the far south coast, with 45millimetres recorded at Moruya.  The rain has been lighter inland and this morning the Rural Fire Service will use anaircraft to gauge the impact of the falls across the fire front. A big back-burning operation in the northern and southern parts of the Deua parkwas completed yesterday reducing the fire risk and last night the last of the interstatefirefighters, a specialist task force from Queensland, left Moruya.

Fire Weather Forecast for the Pacific Region

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Fire Weather Index for the
Pacific Region for 17 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 16 January 2002 shows 21 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, 16 January 2002
(for legend of symbols see: National Resources and Environment)

ModisLand Rapid Response System

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Fig.3. These image was acquired by the Moderate-resolution
Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor on 15 January 2002
and shows fires burning in New South Wales. For details see:
and image search support at:
(For earlier satellite images: see Australia fire updates of 30
December 2001 – 14 February 2002)

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

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