Ethiopia Forest Fire Emergency Update: 23 March 2000, 10:00 GMT

Ethiopia Forest Fire Emergency Update

23 March 2000, 09:00 GMT

Report received yesterday (22 March 2000, 10:00 GMT)
There are reports about new outbreaks of fires in Nechisar (Southern Region, East of Arba Minch) and Awash (Affar Region) National Parks. The Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) did not receive any detailed information on the fires, but it is believed that the fires are occurring in woodland, bushland and grassland ecosystems. All of these are adapted to fire and, hence, do not call for immediate fire fighting action. The fires presumably have been started by pastoralist groups which are residing close to or even inside the parks in order to encourage growth of fresh grass and to eliminate tick populations. The Ministry has dispatched some of the withheld back-pack water pumps from Germany to Nechisar Park to make sure that the fires there do not spread into the unique ground water forests of Arba Minch.
The relocation of the Air Base Camp faced some unforeseen problems and is not yet completed. The focus thus far was on training of mobilised civilians and soldiers in fire fighting techniques around Shakiso. As of yesterday 209 fire fighters have been fully trained. The training activity will continue today.
There were two serious fires in Sewana and Angedi Kebeles in Borana Zone, plus a number of other fires in different spots. Reportedly, the winds were fairly strong by yesterday, resulting in increased fire intensity and spread. The fire in Angedi was reported as almost being contained this morning, but fire fighting efforts are still continuing. As soon as the airbase is fully operational, the ground troops will be supported by water dropping and the aerial fire fighting crews (mixed South African / Ethiopian teams).
The situation in Bale Zone remains unchanged, i.e. fires in accessible areas remain under control, but there are still a number of smoke columns in remote and inaccessible forest areas.
No new rains have been received in the fire areas.
A representative of UNEP was received by the Vice Minister yesterday and a Memorandum of Understanding regarding a cash contribution of US$ 20,000 signed.

Satellite Fire Reconnaissance Update
The update information by satellite sensors is provided by imageries of the U.S. Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP). The provision of satellite data are a response of the U.S. Government to the Government of Ethiopia’s call for international assistance.

20 March 2000, click to enlarge (400 KB) 20 March 2000, click to enlarge (25 KB) 20 March 2000, click to enlarge (48 KB)

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

A high pressure ridge in the upper air over the southern continent will gradually force moisture northwards with a better chance for scattered showers. However there are new tropical systems to the north of Madagascar that will prohibit fairly general rain.

Tab.1. Addis Abba AREA FORECAST FOR 14H00 Thursday 23 March 2000

6 Day 14h00 Forecast Ethiopia Region Addis Abba Area Day Temp (C) Hum (%) W Dir WSpd (km/h) Bar (Hpa) FDI Tendency Thu 23 28 56 NE 17 1008 55 Yellow – Fri 24 27 65 NE 21 1007 53 Yellow – Sat 25 28 61 NE 18 1005 54 Yellow – Sun 26 30 57 NE 17 1007 56 Yellow – Mon 27 31 55 E 15 1006 58 Yellow – Tue 28 31 54 ESE 13 1006 56 Yellow

Tab.2. Goba AREA FORECAST FOR 14H00 Thursday 23 March 2000

6 Day 14h00 Forecast Ethiopia Region Goba Area Day Temp (C) Hum (%) W Dir WSpd (km/h) Bar (Hpa) FDI Tendency Thu 23 25 55 SE 14 1009 50 Yellow – Fri 24 24 68 NE 20 1010 49 Yellow – Sat 25 25 63 SE 15 1008 48 Yellow – Sun 26 26 58 SE 17 1009 52 Yellow – Mon 27 26 55 SE 15 1007 52 Yellow – Tue 28 27 53 SE 13 1006 52 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 (97 KB)

Fig.4. and 5. Fire weather forecast maps for Ethiopia, 23 and 24 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: 20 March 2000)

Nationalgeographic / News has published 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 and several photographs taken from the Space Shuttle missions in the 1980s and 1990s with general impression of land cover and fires are also available.

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