Forest Fire Emergency in Ethiopia: 11 March 2000

Ethiopia Forest Fire Emergency Update

11 March 2000, 10:00 GMT

The update information by satellite sensors is provided by imageries of the NOAA / National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NOAA/NESDIS).

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Fig.1. Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) image (resolution: 1 km) from NOAA-14 (afternoon satellite) for 10 March 2000. Note: The ground in that region can be very hot due to intense solar heating. The larger red areas in the image are probably representing heated soil and rock surfaces. However, the small and brigh red spots within the frame represent fires. The green frame in the center of the image corresponds to the geographic coordinates of the DMSP imageries which were displayed during the last days (next DMSP update: Monday 13 March 2000). Within the framed box the problem fires of the mountain forests are located.

Update report from Addis Ababa

The spotter plane from South Africa has arrived on Friday 10 March afternoon. Later that day (23:00) 15 forest firefighter have arrived from Johannesburg, SouthA frica. Today they all were dispatched to Gobe Base Camp at 09:00 and they are scheduled to start fire fighting on the ground on Saturday afternoon. 15 Ethiopian soldiers who will team up with the South African fire fighters have been trained in fire suppression techniques by a South African training specialist on Friday morning. They successfully extinguished two training fires which were purposely lid at the Robe airstrip.

The fire attack strategy is to start with the easier fires. This will not only contain them from becoming more severe but also facilitate that the Ethiopian soldiers have a chance to thoroughly acquaint themselves with the techniques and tools. Initially, both helicopters which have been committed by the Ethiopian Government will be assigned for deploying the crews to the ground. After some progress has been made, the more severe fires will be attacked. It is envisaged that attacking these fires will be supported by water bombing. A technician and a pilot trainer from South Africa will arrive on Sunday morning, together with the helicopter bucket and accessories. They will install the heli bucket and provide training on its use. The Government of the USA has been requested to provide a collapsable water tank from which the bucket can be filled, since suitable surface water sources are limited in the vicinity of fires. The procurement of additional field equipment from the Governments of Germany, USA and Canada are under way.

There are no updated damage reports available from the fire sites. Official statistics remain hence unchanged. While there was a report on increased wind speed and fire intensity in Bale Zone from Thursday afternoon winds had reportedly calmed down again by Friday.

On Saturday morning it was reported from Bale Zone that students from an agricultural trainer center, soldiers and community members succeeded to contain the fires in Kumbi Forest (south west of the Bale National Park). On the other hand, fires have broken out in Yabello State Forest (Borana Zone), which is located about 100 km south of Shakiso Town. Reportedly, 350 ha of natural Juniperus forests have been consumed. Fire fighting in this forest is constrained by shortage of personnel, field equipment and difficult access.

Generally, the situation remains very critical, since there are still no rains predicted. The forest floors in almost all parts of the country are very dry and, hence, the fire risk high. In view of this any pledges for additional field equipment, helicopters, contributions to fuel costs and food supply for mobilised soldiers and communities, etc are warmly welcomed by the Ethiopian Government.

Ethiopia Current Fire Weather Situation and Forecast

6 Day 14h00 Forecast Ethiopia Region Addis Abba Area Day Temp (C) Hum (%) W Dir WSpd (km/h) Bar (Hpa) FDI Tendency Wed 8 31 38 W 8 1011 58 Yellow – Thu 9 32 36 NNW 10 1013 62 Orange – Fri 10 33 34 NE 15 1012 68 Orange – Sat 11 32 38 NE 14 1009 64 Orange – Sun 12 33 36 NW 7 1007 60 Orange – Mon 13 30 45 SW 10 1006 56 Yellow –

Currently there is a 5880gpm high over central Ethiopia and although a few isolated thundershowers may occur in the south they will fall flat in the evening.With topical movement still active off the South-African coast it will take some time for the ITCZ to move north and establish itself for the season. Only on day 6 it seems as if the high makes way for better thundershower/shower conditions in the south. Source: The exact source of this fire-weather information received from South Africa will be provided on 10 March 2000.

The Ethiopian National Fire Fighting Committee, supported by the International Fire Emergency Advisory Group, has set up an Incident Command System. The structure of the system is given in the chart (Fig.2).

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Fig.2. Structure of the Incident Command System

For further information (history of the current fire situation, etc.) please refer also to the earlier reports this and last week at the Current Significant Fire Events page. Some visual impressions from the currently ongoing fires in Ethiopia are also available.

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