GFMC: Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

09 December 2002

Latest Satellite Image:

FireDanger Extreme in New South Wales
The New South Wales region has been experiencing severe drought conditions; crops have suffered, wildfire danger is extreme, and residents throughout the region have been urged to evacuate their homes or remain indoors and watchful. Large fires (marked in red) are burning both north and south of Sydney, which is located on the coast about 150 kilometers northeast of the largest fire. This true-color Aqua MODIS image of southeastern Australia was captured December 4, 2002, during the southern hemisphere’s summer season. Many of the fires shown here are quite large, with at least three of them showing substantial smoke plumes (grayish brown clouds) streaming to the east over the Tasman Sea. This true-color ModerateResolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) was captured by the Aquasatellite on December 4, 2002, and shows active fires marked with red outlines.In the southern part of the image, large plumes of grayish-brown smoke waft outover the Tasman Sea.

Source: MODIS

Australia´s fire seasons

Actual Fire Situation Maps 

An actual fire situation map in NSWcan be found directly at:

An actual fire situation map inVictoria can be found directly at:

Monday,9 December 2002:  Total Fire Ban 

The Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service has declared a Total Fire Ban in the following Weather Forecast Districts:

Hunter,Central Tablelands, North West Plains, Central West Slopes, Central West Plains and Metropolitan.

The weather forecast for this area is very high temperature, low humidity and moderate to strong winds. These conditions are conducive to fire activity and the community is urged to take particular care. Fire danger in this area will be extreme or approaching extreme.

The Total Fire Ban will become effective for the 24 hours from MIDNIGHT TONIGHT, Sunday, December 8, 2002 until MIDNIGHT Monday, 9 December 2002.

During a Total Fire Ban no fire of any kind may be lit in the open. This includes incinerators and barbecues, which burn solid fuel, e.g. wood or charcoal. You may use a gas or electric barbecue, but only if…
· It is on residential property within 20m of the house or dwelling;
· It is under the direct control of a responsible adult;
· The ground around the barbecue is cleared for 3m of all material which could burn;
· You have a continuous supply of running water.

A map identifying the boundaries of weather districts can be found on the Bureau of Meteorology web site at Members of the public can phone 1 800 654 443 or their local NSW Rural Fire Service Fire Control Centre for more information.

Source: NSWRural Fire Service

Statewide Fire Update of NSW,9 December 2002, 6.00pm


Fire crews today have been assitsted by mild conditions and even light showers across many of the fires still burning in NSW. More than 4,500 firefighters worked on the 58 fires that have already burnt out over 99, 358 hectares of NSW.

Moderating fire weather conditions today have assisted in securing containments commenced last night.

Firefighting resources are strengthened by the deployment of 270 personnel, from South Australia and Victoria. Hundreds of SES volunteers will continue vital logistical work to support firefighting operations.

Areas of concern today were in the Blue Mountains, Berowra, Shoalhaven and Eurobodalla.

Expected weather conditions
Temperature reaching 30 degrees Celsius in the west of Sydney
Humidity up to 44%
Wind SE 25 – 35kph Gusting to 50kph.

Total fire bans have been declared for the Hunter, Central Tablelands, North West Plains, Central West Slopes, Central West Plains and Metropolitan weather districts today. No total fire bans have been declared for tomorrow.

Baulkham Hills / Hornsby Districts – Chilvers Lane Fire (35,000ha)

The fire in the Baulkham Hills/ Hornsby areas has burnt over 40,250 ha stretching from Lower Portland through Maroota, Wisemans Ferry, Kenthurst, Maraylya, Middle Dural, Arcadia, Berowra, Berowra Waters, Birralee, Berowra Heights, Brooklyn and Canoelands. The fire has entered the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

Crews have established significant containment lines around the fires and crews will focus on consolidating containment lines today, especially around Wiseman’s Ferry.

There have been concerns that a number of residents in the burnt out areas are walking through the bushland. A message has been sent out by radio that people should avoid walking in burnt out bushland due to the dangers of falling trees and in fact all National Parks in the area have been closed including West Head in the Ku-ring-gai National Park.

Blue Mountains

The Blackheath Glen fire (4500ha) is being controlled. Backburning occurred on the southern flank around Shipley Plateau, through Medlow Bath to Wentworth Falls. The main areas of concern are still Medlow Bath and rural residential properties on the Shipley Plateau. The road to the Megalong Valley remains closed.

Numerous spot overs occurred in the area to the south of Medlow Bath near the Hydro Majestic Hotel. Helicopter waterbombing, in conjunction with ground crews, was used in an attempt to control these spot overs unfortunately properties were severely damaged as a result.

There is no immediate threat to property. Crews are focussing on property protection at Medlow Bath and Shipley Plateau and are preparing a backburn for the spotfire at Hargraves Lookout.


Backburns in the northern sectors of the majority of fires in the Cessnock area were carried overnight and crews will blacken and deepen these.

Yesterday crews reinforced the backburns, monitor control lines and put in aerial incendiary work on the ridges, which are too steep for backburns.

The Myal Range fire, in the Watagong State Forest, (30ha) crews will focus on waterbombing the fire to enable ground crews to commence mop up.

The Tollagong fire (1,050ha) spotted over in places and crews pulled back in an attempt to contain it. The fire is in remote country and has potential to threaten property in the area. Crews will work on a backburn along the eastern side of the fire to protect properties in the Putty Valley.

The Davis Creek/ Mt Royal fire is holding at this time. Control lines have been put on the southern edge and a dozer line on western edge.

The threat has eased at the Oakley Lane fire (4,200 ha) although it still has potential to threaten properties on the Broke Road. Containment lines have been established on northern, eastern and southern sides of the fire. A handtool line will be constructed on the western side of the fire.


Light rain and mild conditions today have assisted firefighters inthe Shoalhaven district.

The Touga fire has spotted over containment lines in various directions, which had the potential to threaten property. Helicopters and fixed wing aircraft waterbombed the fire in an attempt to protect properties and ground crews are on scene.

Today crews are focussing on the southwest corner of the Touga fire and the six spotovers the Shoalhaven River.

Area to watch includes the Cattlemans Fire burning to the west of Termeil.


Light rain in the Eurobodalla district has assisted firefighters to put in place containment strategies.

The Halfway fire, 20km west of Batemans Bay, is still active has the potential to threaten some rural residential properties along the Deua River. There are also concerns for properties in the Polwombra area. Crews have been working on property protection in the area.

The Winbenby fire, 20km north west of Moruya (4,203ha) is burning in the Deua National Park. There are concerns that this fire may pick up if the weather worsens.

The Mogendoura fire (600ha), 4kms west of Moruya has had a backburn completed on the southern flank. Crews backburned along the eastern containment line of Oulla Creek fire trail and the northern flank on Nettleys Road and it is expected that this fire can be contained.

The Nerrigundah fire, 10km west of Bodalla was impacting upon rural residential properties at Nerrigundah and property protection took place. Backburning, dozer lines and waterbombing was carried out.


The Wellums Creek fire, in the Yengo National Park, impacted upon Mangrove Mountain.
Control lines around Mangrove Mountain and Pemberton Road have been established and control lines will be established from Waratah Road to Dubbo Gully.


The Jerusalem Creek fire, 20km northeast of Dungog, is contained. The fire has burned 60 ha. Crews have worked to put in a control line around the head of the fire, and successfully protected a home in the Jerusalem Nature Reserve.


The Moonbi fire (1100ha) moved into the Moonbi Ranges and was posing a threat to a communications tower. This threat appears to have abated.

Due to the rugged terrain, containment lines have been difficult to establish, but crews will continue to work on these.

Lightning strikes recorded in the area may cause further ignitions over the next few days.

Great Lakes

The Postman Ridge (1,100 ha) in the Bulahdelah State Forest has undergone significant containment works and the crews are focussing on the the northeastern spread of the fire.

Today crews are working on property protection and strategies to contain the fire east of the Lakes Way between Clarkes Road and Mayers Flat.


The Wattle Grove (4,150ha) fire is contained. Significant and successful backburning has occurred along the line from Menai to Lucas Heights as well as in the northern sector of the Holsworthy military base.

No property is under immediate threat and crews will be working on mop up and patrol.

Estimated property loss at this time is 43 homes.

Source: NSW Rural FireService

Fire Weather Forecast for the Pacific Region

click here to enlarge (21 KB)

Fire Weather Index for the
Pacific Region for tomorrow.
(Source: ECPCFire Weather Index Forecast)

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