GFMC: Bush and Forest Fires in Australia, 8 September 2000

Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

8 September 2000

Fire authorities fear day of crisis

Queensland is today facing its worst bushfire threat in years. Fire authorities are warning people to take extreme caution around bushland areas as a near extreme fire danger continues in the state’s south-east today. Temperatures are already 10 degrees above average and fire brigades are preparing themselves for a busy day. Acting Senior Operations Coordinator Darryl King says thus far there have been no problems. “There’s numerous small fires burning at the moment and they’re being controlled by crews,” he said. “One near Esk is still burning but it’s inaccessible and it’s being monitored by approxiamtely seven rural fire brigades, that does not pose a threat to homes and that’s why the situtation has eased out there.”
The State Government has revealed more than 95 per cent of the state is at serious risk from bushfires. Satellite maps show more than 95 per cent of the state, bone dry and at extreme risk. The maps show 75 per cent of the State has had little or no rain for months. The Queensland Fire and Rescue Authority (QFRA) admits it is nervous and concerned about the magnitude of the fire threat. It has set up a major incident room in Brisbane, to coordinate a united response, following thousands of bushfires in the past two weeks. In the lead-up to the school holidays from the end of next week, Emergency Services Minister Stephen Robertson has commissioned a blitz campaign to educate school children about consequences of deliberately lighting fires. During school holidays, the number of calls firefighters receive increases significantly and authorities say 80 to 90 per cent of the bushfires in south-east Queensland are believed to have been started by school children. The Government is asking all Queenslanders living near or in bushland to clean up their properties. (Source:

The Satellite Remote Sensing Services Department of Land Administration (DOLA) routinely evaluates the NOAA AVHRR satellite sensor to detect and locate vegetation fires and high-temperature events. In Australia hot events depicted by the satellite can represent wildfires or prescribed fires as well as industrial activities (e.g., gas flares, smelters) and hot surfaces (e.g., rocks heated by solar radiation during the daytime overpasses of the satellite). Thus, DOLA displays two products of hot spot maps: the automatically generated high-temperature event maps (which include false alarms) and the manually generated fire maps. All hotspot locations are geo-referenced and where required as Australian Map Grid. On some days up to four NOAA-AVHRR passes are used to identify hot events.

The manual method (human operator) provides greater accuracy however it takes longer. Thus, the issue of the manually generated fire maps is delayed (not real-time). Hot spots are located using NOAA-AVHRR channel 3 on early morning (0050-0340hrs) and mid morning (0450-0630hrs) images.

click here to enlarge (30 KB)

Fire Detection Map for Australia for 8 September 2000 overlaid on a pan-Australian vegetation cover map.
Source fire coordinates: Satellite Remote Sensing Services Department of Land Administration (DOLA)
Source of vegetation and fuel type map: Luke and McArthur (1977)
(Please take into account, that this presentation mainly represents fire events from Western Australia and Northern Territories)

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology is the National Meteorological Service for Australia and provides essential meteorological services to all sectors of the Australian community.

Northern Territory
Very high in the Victoria River Region and the Gulf Country, high elsewhere north of Tennant Creek.

Western Australia
Town of Port Hedland – High
Shire of Roebourne-  High
Shire of Ashburton- High
Shire of East Pilbara- High
Kimberley – High


Australasian Fire Authorities Council
The home page of the Australasian Fire Authorities Council coordinates the diverse range of activities of the different australian agencies concerned about fire.
The firebreak newsletter provides a very extensive homepage with information about fire fighting in Australia, downloadable java scripts for calculating fire weather and various links to related sites
The Department of Natural Resources and Environment in Victoria
The Department offers a very comprehensive web site with information on fire management. In their web site current reports are provided with statistics on the fire season. Extensive background information is included along with several links to related web sites.
Satellite Remote Sensing Services Department of Land Administration (DOLA)
The Satellite Remote Sensing Services (SRSS) of the Department of Land Administration provides near real time hot spot detection and burned scar mapping for western Australia. In the Firewatch project the SRSS detects hotspots throughout Western Australia using the thermal channel of the NOAA AVHRR sensor on a daily basis.

For more informations on Australia go to the IFFN country files.

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