Ethiopia Forest Fire Emergency Update: 15 March 2000, 08:00 GMT

Ethiopia Forest Fire Emergency Update

15 March 2000, 08:45 GMT

Ethiopia Fire Report received 14 March 2000 17:00 GMT

To start with the good news, the fires in Nechisar National Park and in Yabello Forest are reported as being suppressed. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) will dispatch some of the backpack pumps from Germany, which were received today, to Yabello Forest in case new fires should emerge.

Helicopter-based fire fighting proved difficult yesterday. The helicopters are not equipped with high altitude kits, resulting in high fuel consumption, reduced maximum pay load (only a maximum of 8 crew members can be taken at any time) and general difficulties to maintain altitude. Furthermore, lowering down by winches is difficult and also dangerous, since serious turbulences are being created between the hovering helicopter and the tree crowns. It requires a lot of skills and experience to safely reach the ground and being caught up in the trees. The trees in the forests are fairly high (above 50m), which aggravates the situation. Due to a shortage of suitable landing sites, fire fighters had to hike up to 10 km in difficult terrain to the fire sites. Hence, were only left with 2 to 3 hours net fire fighting time. Hence, only three localised fires could be suppressed.

Fires are reported from 10 locations in Bale Zone, namely Kiret, Bakabuja, Angetu-Kallo, Hobe, Dugeda, Tara, Ebicha, Wollasha, Korechaffa and Golja, all located in the Angetu/Dolo Mena Area. Furthermore, a serious fire has started in Goba Area.

There was no new report from Borana Zone (Shakiso) received as yet.

The Incident Commander, accompanied by the Logistics and Planning Chiefs, will fly to Bale Zone in order to critically review the fire attack strategy. At the same time, all the equipment as received from the Governments of Germany and South Africa will be airlifted to the fire sites.

Since too many hopes in the local and international media are placed on the effectiveness of water bombing, please find attached some assessments and recommendations as obtained from Johan Heine, leader of the South African assessment team:

  1. The area is not suited for Helicopter (Bambi) bucket fire fighting due to the lack of available water.

  2. The type of fires are not suited for Helicopter bucket fire fighting as they are generally burning “cool” and slowly and without any clearly recognisable fire front.

  3. Therefore, the priority is: Specialised Ground Fire Fighting Teams dispatched to the fires by Helicopter.

  4. It is important to expose the Ethiopian Airforce and the Ministry of Agriculture to the use of the Bambi Bucket for consideration in future use and as an additional application at existing fires if fire situations and water availability should change.

Despite the fact, that we are trying to improve the conditions for water bombing by procuring foldable water tanks from the US, it is important to inform the public about the above listed limitations. Reportedly, the mobilised communities are just waiting for the water bombers to arrive, hoping that they could return home afterwards. Fighting these fires, however, requires their continued participation.

Next Update: 16 March 2000

The update information by satellite sensors is provided by imageries by NOAA / OSEI. and the U.S. Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP).

et_03142000_12a.jpg (12632 Byte) et_03142000_12a.jpg (12632 Byte)

Fig.1 & 2. The area of reported fires has been highlighted by a green outline on this images from 12 March. Heat signatures are difficult to identify because of solar contamination and lack of visible smoke. The right image is a closeup view.  The green frame in the center of the image corresponds to the geographic coordinates of the DMSP imageries which are displayed below. Within the framed box the problem fires oft he mountain forests are located.
(Source: NOAA/OSEI)

13 March 2000, click to enlarge (204 KB) 13 March 2000, click to enlarge (14 KB) 13 March 2000, click to enlarge (50 KB)

Fig.3-5 DMSP scenes of East Africa, 13 March 2000.The red dots represent active fires. Land signature: brown; water: blue; clouds: grey; stable lights (cities): cyan.
(Fig.3.:upper left corner 20°N, 22°E lower right corner 0°N, 50°E
Fig.4 & 5: upper left corner 9°N, 38°E lower right corner 5°N, 42°E)
(source: DMSP)

Ethiopia Current Fire Weather Situation and Forecast

Fire Weather Forecast for the Southern Region:
Tropical movement remain off the Mozambique coast thus moisture is contained in the southern hemisphere. Tropical movement much later than normal is still occuring off the eastern coastal areas of the southern hemisphere.

Tab.1. Addis Abba AREA FORECAST FOR 14H00 Tuesday 15 March 2000

6 Day 14h00 Forecast Ethiopia Region Addis Abba Area Day Temp (C) Hum (%) W Dir WSpd (km/h) Bar (Hpa) FDI Tendency Wed 15 31 33 NW 10 1008 61 Orange – Thu 16 30 43 SE 12 1004 57 Yellow – Fri 17 30 41 SE 11 1008 57 Yellow – Sat 18 31 39 NE 18 1010 65 Orange – Sun 19 33 37 NE 16 1009 67 Orange – Mon 20 32 37 NE 16 1010 65 Orange

Tab.2. Goba AREA FORECAST FOR 14H00 Tuesday 15 March 2000

6 Day 14h00 Forecast Ethiopia Region Goba Area Day Temp (C) Hum (%) W Dir WSpd (km/h) Bar (Hpa) FDI Tendency Wed 15 27 45 SSE 9 1009 51 Yellow – Thu 16 28 41 S 14 1005 58 Yellow – Fri 17 27 43 SE 13 1010 55 Yellow – Sat 18 28 41 SE 14 1009 58 Yellow – Sun 19 26 48 SE 16 1010 54 Yellow – Mon 20 27 47 SE 15 1009 56 Yellow

Source of forecast tables: 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).

15 March 2000, click to enlarge (90 KB) 16 March 2000, click to enlarge (100 KB)

Fig.6.and 7. Fire weather forecast maps for Ethiopia, 15 and 16 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 rainfall analysis is provided by the USAID Famine Early Warning 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.8).

click to enlarge (10 KB)

Fig.8. 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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