GFMC: Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

26 March 2002

Fire Weather Forecast for the Pacific Region

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Fire Weather Index for the 
Pacific Region for 26 March 2002.
(Source: ECPCFire 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 15 February 2002 shows20 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, 26 March 2002
(for legend of symbols see: National Resources and Environment)

Press Releases from theNew South Wales Rural Fire Service
Quick Response ofNambucca Volunteers Saves House
Tuesday, 26 March 2002

The rapid response of NSWRural Fire Service firefighters from Warrell Creek and Gumma saved a WarrellCreek home from being gutted by fire on Sunday.”By getting theirtrucks rolling so quickly they were able to contain the fire to only two roomsof the house,” said NSW Rural Fire Service Nambucca District Fire ControlOfficer, Supt. Phil Evans.”We received a Triple0 call at 15:28 on Sunday to a house fire at Warrell Creek. We immediatelyresponded crews from Warrell Creek, Gumma and the NSW Fire Brigade.” “The crew fromWarrell Creek were rolling within two minutes of the call and arrived on thescene only 7 minutes later to find that the rear of the house was fully involvedin fire and it was spreading fast. Initially firefighters were hampered in theirefforts as they were unable to remove the power fuses as fuse box was inside thefire area.. The Brigade requested extra tankers and NorthPower to cut the powerwhile they were also making initial attack using broken jets until power couldbe cut,” said Supt. Evans A second Warrell Creekunit and a unit from Gumma arrived on scene to set up water supply fromunderground tanks to the other fire vehicles.
“The RFS crews hadthe fire contained within 15 minutes and went into an ‘overhaul’ phase as therewas signs of smoke coming from the ceiling area possibly indicating that therewas still fire in the roof cavity itself. The Brigades remained on scene until18:20 carrying out salvage operations, but their firefighting effort was sosuccessful that only the 2 rear rooms were actually destroyed.”
“All other rooms weresmoke, heat and water affected, but the Brigades were pleased to see theresidents being able to pick up photos and personal affects and remove them fromthe fire area. The house was badly damaged but is quite repairable going on theinformation of the owner today,” said Supt. Evans “The members ofWarrell Creek had actually been involved in the Thank You ceremonies at CoffsHarbour for their efforts in the Christmas Bushfire that day and I believe it isa credit to the volunteers who had the forethought to leave some of theirmembers at home for just such emergencies. Certainly, the residents of the househave the majority of their home still standing for this very reason.”
“I also think itshows the level of professionalism now shown by the members of the RFS, when youconsider the response time and training has contributed to minimising the painand suffering of local residents. In this case I believe that the Brigades notonly got to the scene in a great time but acted professionally in minimising theprogression of fire into other parts of the premises. The community can be veryproud of the members of Warrell Creek and Gumma Rural Fire Brigades”

Ministerial PressRelease: Aircranes Stay For New Fire Danger
Tuesday, 19 March 2002

Unseasonal bushfire dangerconditions have prompted fire authorities to extend the contract of theChristmas 2001 bushfire-fighting helicopters, the Georgia Peach and the IncredibleHulk, for the remainder of the official bushfire season, Emergency ServicesMinister, Bob Debus said today. 
“With anotherstate-wide total fire ban in place for today we’ve extended the contract of theaircrane helicopters to keep them on stand-by in the event of any majorfires,” Mr Debus said.The contract for thehelicopters was due to finish yesterday but has now been extended until March 31- the official end of the bushfire danger period.
“The aircranes were aterrific addition to our firefighting arsenal during the bushfire crisis,responsible for delivering some nine million litres of water mixed with fireretardant at the rate of 45,000 litres per hour.
“Their deployment, inclose coordination with ground based firefighters, was a major contributingfactor in saving hundreds of homes during the emergency. “Fire authoritiesadvise that it is very rare to have such extreme fire conditions – very hightemperatures, low humidity and moderate to strong winds – right across the Stateat this time of year. 
“Having the GeorgiaPeach and Incredible Hulk on stand-by is a bit of extra insurance in the eventof an emergency.” Mr Debus said that Federal and State authorities werecurrently assessing options for improving Australia’s aerial firefightingcapability as part of a National joint proposal on aerial firefightingresources.”Firefighters havebeen battling blazes at Bega Valley, Mulwaree, Tenterfield and Lake Macquarie inwhat only can be described as extraordinary weather conditions.” Mr Debus said that duringthe current bushfire danger period the community is urged to take particularcare and to immediately report any fire or suspicious behaviour to police orfire authorities. “Having recentlylived through one of the worst fire seasons in living memory, I remind thecommunity that it essential to heed Total Fire Ban declarations.”
During a Total Fire Ban nofire of any kind may be lit in the open. This includes incinerators andbarbecues that burn solid fuel, e.g. wood or charcoal. You may use a gas orelectric barbecue, but only if:

  • It is on residentialproperty within 20m of the house or dwelling;
  • It is under the directcontrol of a responsible adult;
  • The ground around thebarbecue is cleared for 3m of all material which could burn;
  • You have a continuoussupply of running water.


THIS TOTAL FIRE BAN INFORMATION SHOULD BE CARRIED AS PART OF ALL WEATHER FORECAST BROADCASTS IN THE LEAD UP TO AND DURING THE TOTAL FIRE BAN PERIOD. The Rural Fires Act 1997 – Section 99 (2) states: “As soon as practicable after making a direction under this section, the Minister is … (a) to cause notice of the direction to be broadcast by a television or radio station transmitting to the part or parts of the State concerned and in a newspaper circulating in those parts”
For more information:
MEDIA ONLY: 02 9898 1855
SOURCE: New South Wales Rural Fire Service 

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:


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:  


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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