Bush and Forest Fires in Australia: 18 January 1999


Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

18 January 1999

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 AMG. 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 channels 2 and 3 on early morning (0050-0340hrs) and mid morning (0450-0630hrs) images.

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Fire Detection Map for Australia for 18 January 1999
Source fire coordinates: Satellite Remote Sensing Services Department of Land Administration (DOLA) http://www.rss.dola.wa.gov.au/apps/firewatch.html

The last update of 18 January shows only one fire event. In the future updates of Australian fire events, the GFMC in collaboration with DOLA, will overlay the fire event information on a composite Australian NOAA map or on a vegetation cover map. Please re-visit us later!

For up-to-date fire weather information the Australian Bureau of Meteorology provides information at http://www.bom.gov.au/weather/

Please check the other websites further down. Most spectacular is a fire which roasted ca. 10,000 chicken in a poultry farm (no hotspot detected by satellite) on this event.

Country Fire Authority Victoria

1500 hours Friday 8 January 1999

Mt Difficult Fire

The Mt Difficult fire began at approximately 1828 hours on Wednesday January 6, 1999, within the Grampians National Park which is around 250 kms west of Melbourne.

Firefighters from the Country Fire Authority and Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) are still working to control it. The weather at the time was 25-29 degrees, relative humidity 35-45%, with approximately 25 kph winds from the SSE, gusting to approximately 35 kph. This caused the fire to travel in a north-westerly direction.

The point of origin of the fire was in the vicinity of Mt. Difficult and is believed to have been caused by a lightning strike in a remote area. The fire was initially within DNRE territory (ie. public land) and soon entered private land. Steep terrain in the area has made fire suppression difficult. The fire has burnt close to and through areas including Mt. Difficult, Laharam, Mount Zero and Mount Stapylton.

About 100 holiday makers were advised to leave the Rose s Gap area. Campers and hikers in the north and west of the Park were moved from the area. Several roads in the area were closed.

At present the fire is still burning and has burnt an estimated 7000 ha. The potential of the fire is now considered low and is expected to be contained by 2000hrs tonight. The area burnt by the fire is limited to the northern section of the park.

A joint CFA/NRE backburn at Copermine Road is taking place today. Infra-Red equipment is currently being used to accurately map fire spread and location. Monitoring, patrolling and blacking out operations are continuing throughout the fire area.  Peak CFA commitment included approximately 55 trucks comprising over 250 firefighters, both volunteer and career staff. Many aircraft have been utilized to combat the fire, including the Erikson Air Crane. At present there are 5 CFA tankers comprising 26 firefighters undertaking blacking out activities.

Work will continue over the weekend to patrol the area, monitor any smouldering logs and undertake back burning work.

According to Parks Victoria holiday makers visiting the area will need to take extra care by watching for changing weather conditions and being aware that large vehicles involved in the fire operations will be on the roads in the area. There is no access to the Grampians National Park north of Halls Gap – Zumsteins Rd, with the exception of Zumsteins picnic area and McKenzie Falls, until further notice.

For more information contact
Parks Victoria Information Line 131963 or NRE on 1800 150 210

South Australian Country Fire Authorities


Firefighters are mopping up after a large shed fire at a poultry farm on Yorke Peninsula this morning in which 10,000 chickens were destroyed.

The shed was already gutted when firefighters arrived on the scene shortly after 8:30am.

The 85 by 10 metre shed was fully automated and also housed cool rooms and egg-grading facilities. Total damage is estimated at between $500,000 and $600,000.

30 firefighters in eight appliances from Port Victoria, Brenton, Minlaton, Curramulka and Maitland CFS brigades, as well as up to 20 local farm firefighting units and tankers extinguished the fire which did not threaten any other sheds on the property.

Incident Controller, Lyall Schultz estimates 50 local people came to assist at the fire as well as the 30 firefighters and three SES personnel.

MFS fire cause investigators will go to the scene later today.

Contact Name : HELEN PEREIRA
Contact Phone : 8204 3440

Further links for information on Australian Fire Management Agencies:

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.

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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