Ethiopia Forest Fire Emergency Update: 13 March 2000 11:00 GMT

Ethiopia Forest Fire Emergency Update

13 March 2000, 11:00 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. Last 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 (13 March 2000 11:00 GMT)

The helicopter-based fire fighting operations have come into full swing on Sunday in Bale Zone. As mentioned on the previous update, this does not include water bombing yet. 38 fire fighters (18 South African and 20 Ethiopian), which are organised in four teams, have contained fires extending over an area of 25 ha in Berbere and Goro locations in the east of the National Park. It proved difficult for the spotter plane and the helicopters to maintain altitude and it was, therefore, decided to relocate the Base Camp from Robe/Goba (> 3000 m.a.s.l.)to Delo Mena (ca. 1500 m.a.s.l.). This will save a lot of fuel for the air operations. At the same time it will also be closer to the fire areas to be attacked during the next days, which are mainly located around Delo Mena and in the north-west of it. Preparations for setting-up the new camp are on its way. Air-operations are presently still constrained because the available radio communication system does not allow for communication between the air and the ground due to limited range. Three VHF Airband radios are urgently required. The MoA presently explores whether they could be available from the Ethiopian Airforce.

The areal surveyors expect that the burnt-over forest area in Bale Zone alone is in excess of 100,000 ha. However, systematic surveying with GPS readings will be carried out today and more reliable damage estimates are expected for tomorrow. Deep flights over the forests revealed that even in the parts that were believed to be uninhabited, farmers have established camps and small land-clearings. There are also reports that farmers have re-started fires in areas, where fires were extinguished or contained during the previous days. Due to this, area supervisors find it increasingly difficult to motivate the ground-based fire fighting crews (community members, soldiers and students) to continue their efforts. This underscores the need for an mid- to long-term integrated fire management program, in order to address the causes of fires.

In Borana Zone, there are still fires in Wacho Sololo, Bore and Mengado sites. In addition to that, a new fire has started in Jigessa Kebele. The local authorities are worried that from Jigessa fires could spread again to the neighbouring Districts (Uraga, Shakiso and Adola) were fires have already caused considerable damage but were recently suppressed.

This morning the Ministry also received a report about a serious fire in Nechisar National Park of Southern Region. The Park is located in the south-west of Shakiso area, directly in between Lake Chamo and Lake Abaya (Rift-Valley). The park is famous for its ground water forests, which are unique for country. It also comprises grasslands and bushlands in the higher altitudes. Reportedly, the fire is presently confined to the latter vegetation types. The Ministry will dispatch a team of experts in the afternoon in order to assess the situation and assist the local authorities in organising the fire fighting activities.

Ethiopia Current Fire Weather Situation and Forecast

Fire Weather Forecast for the Southern Region:
Tropical movement remain in the southern Hemisphere the next 10 days meaning the chance for early good rains over southern Ethiopia is confined to isolated thundershower activity mainly in the southern mountains, that may pose a big natural fire risk.

With tropical movement and re-development south of the equator it draws the moisture from north to south and poses to be your biggest enemy to combat the fires, the lack of rain and dry thunder shower activity that may lit natural forest fires.

Tab.1. Addis Abba AREA FORECAST FOR 14H00 Monday 13 March 2000

6 Day 14h00 Forecast Ethiopia Region Addis Abba Area Day Temp (C) Hum (%) W Dir WSpd (km/h) Bar (Hpa) FDI Tendency Mon 13 32 45 N 12 1008 60 Orange – Tue 14 33 42 NNW 11 1007 61 Orange – Wed 15 31 33 NW 10 1005 61 Orange – Thu 16 30 43 SE 12 1006 57 Yellow – Fri 17 30 41 SE 11 1007 57 Yellow – Sat 18 31 39 NE 18 1010 65 Orange –

Tab.2. Goba AREA FORECAST FOR 14H00 Monday 13 March 2000

6 Day 14h00 Forecast Ethiopia Region Goba Area Day Temp (C) Hum (%) W Dir WSpd (km/h) Bar (Hpa) FDI Tendency Mon 13 27 35 SE 13 1010 58 Yellow – Tue 14 29 43 SSE 12 1009 56 Yellow – Wed 15 29 45 SSE 9 1009 54 Yellow – Thu 16 28 41 S 14 1007 58 Yellow – Fri 17 27 43 SE 13 1008 55 Yellow – Sat 18 28 41 SE 14 1009 58 Yellow

Source of forecast tables and synoptic weather maps: Net Forecasting (South Africa) on the base of data from the ECMWF (European Center For Medium Range Weather Forecasts) and the U.K.M.O. (United Kingdom Meteorological Office).

13 March 2000, click to enlarge (97 KB) 14 March 2000, click to enlarge (100 KB)

Fig.2.and 3.Fire weather forecast maps for Ethiopia, 13 and 14 March 2000
(Source: Net Forecasting)

Also available is a three-month rain forecast (starting 26 February 2000). The implications of this forecast are discussed by Net Forecasting.

An Eastern Africa and the Horn Satellite Imagery (NDVI) and rianfall analysis is provided by the USAID Famine Early Warning System.

The Fire Emergency Incident Command System

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.4).

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Fig.4. Structure of the Incident Command System (State: 11 March 2000)

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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