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”.
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.
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.
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: 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 of 30 December 2001 – 14 February 2002)
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 south of Tennant Creek Western Australia CENTRAL WEST High LOWER WEST High CENTRAL WHEATBELT High GREAT SOUTHERN High SOUTHWEST High SOUTH COASTAL High TOWN OF PORT HEDLAND High SHIRE OF ROEBOURNE High SHIRE OF ASHBURTON High SHIRE OF EAST PILBARA High KIMBERLEY Moderate toHigh
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.