Ethiopia Forest Fire Emergency Update: 19 March 2000, 09:00 GMT

Ethiopia Forest Fire Emergency Update

19 March 2000, 09:00 GMT

Ethiopia Fire Report (Last Update of 17 March 2000 13:45 GMT)
Yesterday a mapping of burnt areas and fire spots was carried out by the spotter plane.The ICS in Addis Ababa has not yet received the map, but a rough estimate of the area burned by wildfires amounts to 110,000 hectares in both Zones combined.
As also evidenced from the satellite images, fire activity has somewhat slowed down, but there are still lots of fire spots, which were observed from the air. Fires are burning low in the mornings but pick up intensity in the afternoons with increasing winds.
In Borana Zone there are still three serious fires in Sewana, Jigessa and Uraga. For Borana Zone we also received some official statistics today (as of 7 March 2000; unfortunately no more recent data are available), which are presented in the table below:

On average, about 1500 fire fighters were combating the fires at any one day during the last 3 and a half weeks. In peak times more than 10,000 fire fighters were mobilised in this Zone.
In Bale Zone fires are confirmed for 8 different locations, all around Mena and Angetu areas. In seven other locations the ground-based crews managed to suppress the fires. There is one fire raging inside the Bale National Park, but reportedly in the afro-alpine zone (heathlands), which is adapted to fire activity.
As reported earlier, lowering down of fire fighters by winch proved extremely difficult in the natural forest areas and it was decided to discontinue it for safety reasons. One helicopter is now being deployed for the heli-bucket training and the other helicopter had a minor collision with a tree yesterday. The damage is not big but it will take some time to repair it. Therefore, it was decided to focus on training of ground crews for the next days. The Bale Zonal Administration has selected some 100 militia men from different Kebeles (lowest administrative level – sub-district level), which were trained as fire fighting trainers by the South-African crews yesterday. They will serve as fire fighting crew leaders for the future operations and train mobilised community members on the job. During the training they will be acquainted with the specialist fire fighting tools which were received from the Governments of Germany and South Africa.
The installation of the heli-bucket to one of the helicopters has been completed this morning. The two head pilots and 4 Ethiopian fire fighters will be trained in its use and handling close to Debre Zeit tomorrow. In the vicinity of Debre Zeit there are some crater lakes with plenty of water. This will allow for many training rounds in short time. Later on Saturday the helicopter will return to the fire sites and practice water dropping on actual fires under the supervision of the South-African trainers until Sunday. The limiting factor for these operations is still availability of close-by surface water sources, which are suitable for heli-bucket dumping. On Sunday evening the training will be completed and the Ethiopian pilots and helicopter crews will be capable to continue the job. The material request to the Government of the United Sates is being processed and the availability of water will improve as soon as the folda tanks and accessories have arrived.
Reportedly, the availability of suitable landing places in the forests around Shakiso is slightly better than in Bale Zone. Therefore, it is planned to move to Shakiso at the beginning of next week to commence helicopter-based fire fighting there. However, this depends on whether funding can be solicited for the continuation of the operations of the South African team. As it stands now, they will have to depart by 21 March 2000 for South Africa. A continuation of operations for two weeks would cost about US$ 25,000.
The weather situation has not changed, i.e. no rains yet. However, according to the weather forecasts, the chances for rains in Goba area are slightly increased.

Satellite Fire Reconnaissance Update
The update information by satellite sensors is provided by imageries of the U.S. Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP).

16 March 2000, click to enlarge (449 KB) 16 March 2000, click to enlarge (25 KB) 16 March 2000, click to enlarge (45 KB)

Fig.1-3 DMSP scenes of East Africa, 16 March 2000.The red dots represent active fires. Land signature: brown; water: blue; clouds: grey; stable lights (cities): cyan. The center and right fire map show the area in which the problem fires are currently burning and fire-suppression actions take place.
(Fig.1.: Upper left corner 20°N, 22°E lower right corner 0°N, 50°E
Fig.2 & 3: 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:

Tab.1. Addis Abba AREA FORECAST FOR 14H00 Sunday 19 March 2000
There is a fairly good chance for rain in the medium term, at least scattered showers and or thundershowers, and may also start to include the main valley towards the sea in the north-east of the country.

6 Day 14h00 Forecast Ethiopia Region Addis Abba Area Day Temp (C) Hum (%) W Dir WSpd (km/h) Bar (Hpa) FDI Tendency Sun 19 33 37 NE 16 1002 67 Orange – Mon 20 32 37 E 16 1002 65 Orange – Tue 21 31 45 SE 17 1007 62 Orange – Wed 22 29 55 SE 20 1004 59 Yellow – Thu 23 28 56 NE 17 1008 55 Yellow – Fri 24 27 65 NE 21 1007 53 Yellow

Tab.2. Goba AREA FORECAST FOR 14H00 Sunday 19 March 2000

6 Day 14h00 Forecast Ethiopia Region Goba Area Day Temp (C) Hum (%) W Dir WSpd (km/h) Bar (Hpa) FDI Tendency Sun 19 26 39 SE 16 1010 58 Yellow – Mon 20 27 41 SE 15 1007 58 Yellow – Tue 21 28 45 SE 14 1007 56 Yellow – Wed 22 26 50 SW 15 1007 54 Yellow – Thu 23 25 55 SE 14 1009 50 Yellow – Fri 24 24 68 NE 20 1010 49 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).

click to enlarge (90 KB) click to enlarge (87 KB)

Fig.4.and 5. Fire weather forecast maps for Ethiopia, 19 and 20 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.6).

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Fig.6. Structure of the Incident Command System (State: 19 March 2000)

Nationalgeographic / News posted yesterday an article which describes the ongoing fires resulting from slash-and-burn practices in Africa and Indonesia with information and imageries from last days GFMC webpages: Slash-and-Burn Agriculture Sparks Devastating Fires (16 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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