GFMC: Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

24 Januar 2003

Latest satellite images:BushfiresRaging in Southeast Australia

The bushfires in southeasternAustralia continue to burn out of control, producing thick smoke. Thesenew  ModerateResolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image composit,  show the smoke plume spreading thousands ofkilometers over the Pacific Ocean on Jan. 19, and then switching directions on23 January 2003. 12 Images, Updated: 23 January 2003

Source: NASA/ EO

Bushfires in southeast Australia are still burning out ofcontrol, threatening farmland, livestock, and homes in Victoria and New SouthWales, Australia. More than 500 homes have been destroyed, and several townshave fires within one or two kilometers of the city limits. Erratic winds pushthe fires, some of which have been burning for weeks, one way and then another,frustrating and exhausting the hundreds of firefighters battling the blazes.This Moderate ResolutionImaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image of the fires (red dots) was acquired22 January  2003, by the Aquasatellite, around 11:30 a.m. local time.

Source: NASA/ EO

Heat signatures (red), burn scars(charcoal), and smoke (light blue haze) are visible from fires burning in partsof in New South Wales and in parts of Victoria, Australia, in these ModerateResolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) images  from 23  January 2003, captured by the Aqua satellite. Also visible in theseimages is smoke (indikated by the yellow arrows) being transported over theTasman Sea.


Smoke (tan haze) is visible from fires burning in parts of New South Wales and in parts of Victoria, Australia, in this image from 22 January2003. The smoke, indicated by the yellow arrows, is visible extending far outacross the Tasman Sea.


This false-color map of theworld  shows an aerosol index produced from data collected by the Total ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) on22  January 2003.The large cluster of fires in Australia in southern New South Wales is easily identified by the large area of red. The aerosol plume clearly affects a larger area than it seems to in true-color imagery. This is because the TOMS aerosol index uses observations collected in the ultraviolet (UV) part of the spectrum. Aerosols that appear transparent in true-color imagery can be revealed by UV analysis. The principle is similar to certain “invisible” magic markers that produce writing that can only be seen under special UV (“black”) lights.

Source: Total ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS)

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)

Overview AustraliaFriday, 24 January, 2003, 05:18 GMT:

Firefighters in Australia are bracing for a weekend of resurgent bushfires, withtemperatures forecast to soar to 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in some areas.

Emergency teams made the most of a brief respite in the weather to constructfire breaks in the hope of keeping existing blazes under control.

In Sydney, New South Wales State Premier Bob Carr cancelled a fireworksdisplay to celebrate Australia Day on Sunday, saying such an event would beinappropriate.

Four people have been killed and more than 530 homes destroyed in fires whichhave swept across the country.

The most serious risk is to the Australian capital, Canberra, and the statesof New South Wales and Victoria, where at least a dozen towns are under threatfrom the fires.

Fires have been burning in Victoria’s high country and Snowy Mountains forweeks, and the deteriorating weather could aggravate the situation.

Bushfires have already destroyed some 260,000 hectares (650,000 acres) ofnational parkland in Victoria over the past couple of weeks.

More than 60 fires are continuing to burn in New South Wales. The state’sEmergency Services Minister, Bob Debus, warned of worse to come. “We’relooking down the barrel of another horror weekend with extreme weatherconditions applying the blowtorch to bush that’s dangerously dry because of theworst drought in 100 years,” he said.

Firefighters are also continuing to battle blazes on the island state ofTasmania, where five homes were destroyed earlier this week.

In the northern state of Queensland, several homes were evacuated because ofa fire about 300 kilometres (185 miles) north of the state capital, Brisbane.

In Canberra, emergency teams were trying to prevent a repeat of lastSaturday’s disaster when fires ravaged the city’s western suburbs.

The bushfires were sparked by lightning and have so far caused damageestimated at A$150m ($87m)

Source: BBC news


23 January 2003-TotalFire Ban For The Act Extended Another 6 Days

Due to the continuing weather forecastof strong winds and very high fire dangers in the ACT and the extent of bushfirecommitment the Chief Fire Control Officer has extended for a further 6 days thecurrent Total Fire Ban for the ACT, under the provisions of the Bushfire Act1936.

The Total Fire Ban will apply for anadditional 6 days commencing at 0000 hours (Midnight tonight 21/1/03) andcontinue to be in force for the whole of:


A further notice will be issued if itis necessary to further extend or cancel the Ban.

As a result of the total fire bancontinuation the only fire allowed in the open air throughout the Territoryduring this time are those listed below as being a prescribed class of fireunder the Bushfire Act Regulations.

There are no exemptions for private,public or display fireworks during the Total Fire Ban period.

Exempt fires are:

  • Fires used inside a factory, as defined under the Bushfire Act, for manufacturing purposes;
  • Fires necessary for the maintenance or repair of essential services such as: light, power, water, sewerage, transport or communication, subject to the approval of the Chief Fire Control Officer; and
  • Gas or electric heating appliances used on your own premises (ie. gas and electric barbecues are OK, no wood, charcoal, or spirit burning appliances) provided these appliances are under constant adult supervision and attendance, with all flammable material cleared in all directions for 3 metres and within reach of an adequate and continuous supply of water that can be applied to the appliance.

Follow-up media contact: EmergencyServices Bureau 6207 8564; or 6207 8458

Source: canberraconnect

Extreme fire conditions likely:weather bureau
Friday, January  24, 2003. Posted: 07:27:39 (AEDT)

The weather bureau is warning itis highly likely extreme fire conditions being predicted for New South Wales,the ACT and Victoria over the weekend will eventuate.
In an unprecedented move, the New South Wales Rural Fire Servicecommissioner Phil Koperburg has declared a four-day statewide total fire banfrom midnight.
He says there are over 1,000 kilometres of active fire in the state’s south-eastthat will be particularly vulnerable to the weather.
Conditions are forecast to deteriorate tomorrow with high temperatures in the40s, hot winds and low humidity expected to peak on Sunday.
Senior meteorologist with the weather bureau, Brett Gage, says it is a similarstory in Victoria and the ACT.
“Expect those parts to experience extreme heat and moderate winds onSaturday afternoon and also Sunday afternoon, the north-east of Victoria shouldget some relief late on Sunday and the south-east of New South Wales,” hesaid

Source: ABC news


Four day Statewide Total Fire Ban from midnight Thursday 23 January to midnight Monday 27 January

Extreme fire dangerweather conditions predicted for the Australia Day long weekend has caused theCommissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service to declare a special four day,Statewide Total Fire Ban. The special declaration is unprecedented in NSWhistory and will run from midnight tonight, Thursday 23 January to midnightMonday 27 January.
Conditions are expected to begin to deteriorate tomorrow but will peak on Sundaywith 43 degree temperatures and strong northwesterly winds.
There is currently over 100km of active fire in NSW’s southeast, which will beparticularly vulnerable to such extreme weather.
Communities are expected to come under threat and fire authorities are currentlypreparing resources for what will be a very challenging weekend.
During a Total Fire Ban no fire of any kind may be lit in the open. Thisincludes incinerators and barbecues which burn solid fuel, e.g. wood orcharcoal. 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 couldburn;
· You have a continuous supply of running water.
A map identifying the boundaries of weather districts can be found on the Bureauof Meteorology web site at Members of the public can phone 1 800 654 443 or their local NSW Rural FireService Fire Control Centre for more information.
The Rural Fires Act 1997 – Section 99 (2) states: “As soon as practicableafter making a direction under this section, the Minister is … (a) to causenotice of the direction to be broadcast by a television or radio stationtransmitting to the part or parts of the State concerned and in a newspapercirculating in those parts”

FOR MEDIA ONLY: For more information or interviews regarding fire danger &fire safety:
Duty Media Officer 02 9898 1855.

Statewide fire update, 24 January 2003

Friday, 24 January 2003– Firefighters used milder weather conditions yesterday to work on containmentlines in preparation for extreme fire danger predicted for the Australia Daylong weekend.
About 2000 firefighters were working on over 60 fires across the State, themajority in NSW’s southeast.
Major backburning, bulldozing and aerial incendiary operations are beingundertaken to prepare containment lines, particularly on fires affecting thesouth east of NSW, including Kosciuszko National Park and areas surrounding andincluding the ACT.
Extreme fire danger weather conditions predicted this weekend has caused theCommissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service to declare a special four day,Statewide Total Fire Ban.
The special declaration is unprecedented in NSW history and will run frommidnight Thursday 23 January to midnight Monday 27 January.
Conditions are expected to begin to deteriorate today with climbingtemperatures. They will peak on Sunday with 43 degree heat and strongnorthwesterly winds.
NSW’s southeast will be particularly vulnerable as it already has over 100kmof active fire.
Communities are expected to come under threat and fire authorities are currentlypreparing resources for what is expected to be a very challenging weekend.

Nearly 400 firefighters concentrated on containment activities in all sectionsof the complex of fire that has burned 202,000ha from 8km east of Wee Jasper inthe north through to Michelago, 75km south.
Active fire continues to burn in the southeast where it is progressing in awesterly direction towards the Monaro Highway. Firefighters have successfullyheld it west of the highway and this remains a major objective over the comingdays.
The fire also continues to burn northwards.
Crews will backburn in several sectors of the fire tonight.
West: Brindabella Rd and Brindabella township area.
North: In the Fairlight sector from Mullion to Ledger Trail and Doctors Flat.
South east: On dozer trail running south east to Smiths Rd and a grader trailjunction, joining backburning operations conducted by Cooma Rural Fire District.
Residents are warned to remain fire aware, particularly those in the northernareas from Wallaroo to Sutton and southern areas from Williamsdale to Colinton.Concerned residents can call 1800 227 228 for fire information.
Holding paddocks for large animals have been established at QueanbeyanRacecourse (6299 2398) and Queanbeyan Sale Yards (6294 3633).

Kosciuszko National Park
Despite relatively mild weather yesterday fire fighters reported someconsiderable fire activity at most fires but the perimeters have not expandedgreatly because of the absence of strong winds.
Backburning was being conducted in several areas, including the Snowy Plains,the western side of Lake Jindabyne, around Eucumbene Cove and along the westernshore of the lake.
Fire authorities are concerned about another fire in the Tom Groggin area, whichbegan from a spot fire two days ago and has grown considerably in the Alpine ashcountry south of the Alpine Way. Planners are now working on strategies totackle this fire.
Fire fighting efforts of over 380 fire fighters concentrated on mopping up thebackburn at Talbingo and securing the containment line at Blue Water Holes FireTrail in addition to containment in the Gang Gang and Black Jack Mountain areas.
The western side of the south Kosciuszko (Khancoban) fires remain secure. Thisarea is generally quiet with fire fighters patrolling and mopping up the fireedge.
Residents are advised to “remain aware” especially in the:
· Talbingo area
· Adaminaby, Shannons Flat and Yaouk Valley
· Lake Eucumbene and Rocky Plains
· Williamsdale, Michelago to Bredbo, Colinton, Murrumbucca
· surrounding Jindabyne, Wollondibby, Ingebyra
· as well as residents along the Alpine Way
The immediate threat in the Providence Portal, Anglers Reach and Old Adaminabyareas has eased.
See Kosciuszko National Park Fire Facts Summary media release for furtherinformation.

Lake Burrinjuck, Yass Rural Fire District
Containment strategies for this fire have progressed well. It has burned10,800ha and is being fought by 70 firefighters.
The fire is being controlled through backburning operations that include airseeding to ridge tops north of Burrinjuck dam.

Yarrowlulmla/QueanbeyanFire Update

The fireground spreads over 202,000ha from northeast of Wee Jasper in the northto Michelago 75 km south and includes areas in the ACT and NSW.

Fires were caused by lightning strikes on January 8 and spread under theinfluence of extreme fire weather.

In the southeast, the fire is progressing in a westerly direction towards theMonaro Hwy but has been held west of the highway. The fire is also progressingnorth.

Over 400 personnel are working on the fire in the Yarrowlumla, Queanbeyan, Yassand Cooma Rural Fire Districts, with out of area crews from around NSW assistinglocal brigades.

Property protection, construction of containment lines and backburning has beenthe objective today.

Weather conditions are expected to deteriorate on the weekend. Crews are workinghard to establish and consolidate containment lines before the onset offorecasted strong, hot, dry winds and high temperatures.

Resources (Yarrowlumla/Queanbeyan only)
· Personnel-[195]-181-Rural Fire Service 8-National Parks Wildlife Service.These figures do not include support of other agencies (SES, Police, Dept ofAgriculture)
· Tanker(s)-[51]-48-RFS 3-NPWS
· Heavy Plant-[20]-20-RFS
· Aviation support- 2 aircranes, 2 medium helicopters, 9 light helicopter (2are air attack supervisors for cranes), 1 fixed wing plane for reconnaisance.Based at Nichols air base (ovals at Gold Creek School). Shared with ACT onrequest.
· Ambulance at Guises Creek, Mullion Oval, Brindabella, Yarrowlumla FireControl Centre.
· Plant (dozers, graders, machinery) based at Williamsdale, Fairlight,Brindabella, Sawyers Gully.
· Watertankers based at Guises Ck, Williamsdale, Mullion.

Firefighting Tasks 23/01/03
South East : Crews have worked on dozer trail from Clear Range Fire Trailsoutheast to Smiths Rd as well as patrolling and mopping up. Smiths Rdbackburning continued. Patrol and mop up for Guises Creek, Williamsdale andMichelago sectors. Aircraft have worked on pockets of activity in south east,bombing hot spots when required.

North: Backburning from Ledgers Creek rd with bulldozer and grader supportingclean up operations. Patrol, mop up and property protection along Doctors FlatRd. Backburning from Follies Fire Trail to south of Pine Ridge Trail junction.Forty Yass Rural Fire District firefighters are also working on northern reachesof the fireground.

West: Consolidation of backburn operations along Brindabella Rd in north ofvalley. Backburning at rear of properties.

Cooma Rural Fire District (southern end of complex)
Backburn along Murrumbidgee containment line along Clear Range trail extended toYarrowlumla border. Fire remains on western side of the Monaro Highway.
Backburn of southern trail heading to Shannons Flat went well.
Some spotting south and southeast from the Booth Range dealt with well bywaterbombing.
Extra aircraft in Cooma are working with Yarrowlumla aviation. 120 firefightersfrom Cooma and out of area crews including Task Forces from RFS Region West andRegion North and NPWS northern region.

General: Tasks tonight and tomorrow are to continue backburning, establishingand consolidating containment lines in effort to deepen lines by the weekend forpredicted weather.

Residents to remain fire aware
Despite milder weather conditions at the moment residents should remain awarethat fires continue to burn and are expected to flare once the weatherdeteriorates towards the weekend.

· Wallaroo to Sutton
· Williamsdale to Colinton

Holding paddocks for large animals have been established at QueanbeyanRacecourse (6299 2398) and Queanbeyan Sale Yards (6294 3633).

Out of Area Assistance
Volunteer firefighters from Rural Fire Brigades from the following NSW RuralFire Districts have assisted operations across the fireground, including theACT:

Region East· Blue Mountains· Camden· Campbelltown· Cessnock· Cumberland(Penrith, Blacktown, Fairfield)· Hawkesbury· Gloucester· Great Lakes·Greater Taree· Kiama/Shellharbour· Maitland· Port Stephens· Singleton·Sutherland· Warringah Pittwater· Wingecarribee· Wollongong· Wollondilly·Wyong Region North· Armidale· Ballina· Bellingen· Byron· Coffs Harbour·Hastings· Guyra· Inverell· Kempsey· Kyogle· Lismore· Nambucca· RichmondValley· Severn· Tenterfield· Tweed
Region South· Eurobodalla· Crookwell· Gunning· Mulwaree· Shoalhaven·Tallaganda· Queanbeyan· Yass· Yarrowlumla Region West· Bland· Boorowa·Bourke· Canobolas Zone/Cowra· Coolamon· Cootamundra· Forbes· Harden· Junee·Lachlan· Parkes· Temora· Young

For more information(Please note this is for MEDIA INQUIRIES ONLY):
DUTY MEDIA OFFICER (02) 9898 1855


Bureau of meteorologywebsite with educational material about bushfires which may be useful for themedia for background material:

Listen to Radio 2XL, Snowy Mountains FM and ABC Bega

For more information (Please note this is for MEDIA INQUIRIES ONLY):
Media contact only: Stuart Cohen 0418 820 504

Source: NSW Rural FireService 



Total FireBan for Victoria, 24 January 2003
 Tomorrow Fri, 24 Jan 2003 has been declared a Day of Total Fire Ban in theNorth Western, North Eastern, South Western and Central Total Fire Bandistrict(s) of Victoria.
No fires may be lit or be allowed to remain alight in the open air from Fri, 24Jan 2003 12:00 AM until Sat, 25 Jan 2003 12:00 AM.

Victoria Fires Update 24 January 2003

Fire Crews Prepare for Extreme FireWeather 24 Jan 13:45hrs
Joint Media Release between CFA and DSE as of 0700hrs

Extreme fire behaviour overnight in the Bogong (South) Complexled to spotovers occuring below the Alpine Way, north west of Hotham at about2.00am this morning.
Fire crews were initially withdrawn from this fire because it was too fierce towork on safely, but have now gone back in and are attacking the fire at MountBlowhard. Aircraft will be supporting this attack as soon as cloud lifts.
Successful backburns have been completed around isolated properties at Uplandsand along the Benambra-Corryong road to protect both private properties and thewooden bridges along that road.
Incident Controller at Swifts Creek, Ewan Waller said that the priority fortoday is to extend heavy plant protection works into the populated CassilisValley north west of Swifts Creek and actions are well advanced to prepare forthe expected threat this weekend.
‘The indications are that there will be severe fire weather on Saturday and thatcontrol will be difficult,’ Mr Waller said.
‘All agencies are committed to working with these communities to minimise thedamage in these trying circumstances.’
Crews from the CFA and DSE/DPI continue to patrol and monitor affected areas andfreehold protection is making progress.

Tubbut Fires Update 24th Jan
Great teamwork and sustained effort reduces fire threat at Tubbut.

The Bowens Track fire near Tubbut in the north east ofGippsland has burned through 1700ha of bush, with several spotovers into privateproperty.
Containment lines around the fire have stopped the spread and work is nowcontinuing on blacking out within these containment lines.
Incident Controller, Steve de Voogd said that there has been a fantastic teameffort on this fire, with crews from DSE/DPI, the CFA, Parks Victoria, WillmottForestry contractors and the New Zealand contingent all contributing to thesuppression of the fire.
“They did such a good job yesterday afternoon when we had a spotfire thatgrew very fast in a short time, but was contained quickly with dozers,” Mrde Voogd said.
“The effort by the whole team has been sensational, especially in thedifficult conditions we’ve been experiencing with constant wind changes.”
About 130 people have been working on this fire, which is hoped to be containedby the end of today.

What to do
All residents threatened by fire are advised to activate their bushfire plansand remain alert of conditions around them. Those choosing to leave home should leave early. It isunsafe to be on the roads as the fire approaches.A number of emergency centres have been established and details of these are asfollows:
Rural City of Wodonga’s Municipal Emergency Relief Centres
– Wodonga Leisure Centre, Hedge Road (02 6059 1522)
– Wodonga Civic Centre, Hovell Street (02 6055 9300)
Beechworth Municipal Emergency Relief Centre, Beechworth Memorial Hall
Yackandandah Municipal Emergency Relief Centre, Yackandandah Hall, High Street(Next to Indigo Shire Offices)
There are also information hotlines for people in the Towong Shire (02) 60715100 and the Alpine Shire 03 5755 0524
Those choosing to stay and defend their property areadvised of the following:
Remain alert – embers may be falling on or near your property and should beextinguished immediately.Protect yourself from radiant heat by wearing natural fibres and long sleevedshirts, long pants, sturdy boots, and a broad brimmed hat. Do not wear syntheticclothing.
Fill sinks, baths and buckets with water to ensure water supplies are available- water pressure in the area may drop due to high demand.
After the fire front passes, remain vigilant – embers may continue to fall forseveral hours.
For further general information the followingresources are suggested:
Victoria Police Information hotline (road closures) 1800 444 343

Parks Victoria Hotline 13 19 63

Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) website

DSECommunity Updates – available for Upper Murray, Ovens and Kiewa Valley,Gippsland and Bogong fires. Detailed reports, produced daily.

NSW RuralFire Service website

And Stay Tuned to your local radio station. Listen to ABC radio on:
Wodonga 106.5, Bright 89.7, Corryong 99.7, and Goulburn Valley 97.7

Victoria Police (road closures) 1800 444 343
Parks Victoria 13 19 63
CFA 13 15 99

Department of Sustainability and Environment
Community Updates on the DS&E website are alsoavailable

Actual Fire Situation Maps,Victoria
An actual fire situation map can be found directly at:



05:32:55 AM 24 January, 2003

The Tasmania Fire Service has declared a Total Fire Ban fortomorrow(Friday 24th & Saturday 25th January 2003) for the whole of thestate commencing at midnight tonight. A Total Fire banmeans no fires are allowed in the open. Gas and electric BBQ’s are allowed.Wood fired BBQ’s are prohibited. Fires in the open are prohibited, allpermits revoked. Total Fire Ban Information

05:24:38 PM 24 January, 2003

Firecrews have contained the fire and are now blacking out theedges and hotspots.

04:22:12 PM 24 January, 2003

Fire is under control. It is at present within control linesand is in the process of being blacked out by TFS crews.

02:54:29 PM 24 January, 2003

There is an increase in fire activity in the Tanina Bluff andPlatform Peak areas. Firefighters are currently engaged in strengtheningexisiting fire containment lines. The fire is liable tomove in a South Westerly direction.At present there are no properties directlythreatened by the fire. It is suggested that residents inthe Black Hills and Braslins Roads areas remain alert.

02:52:30 PM 24 January, 2003

The fire is at present contained, fire crews are strengtheningexisting fire lines. This work will continued throughoutthe day and through the night.

01:54:38 PM 24 January, 2003

At the present time Fire is not under control. It has coveredan area of approx 60ha. Forestry Tasmania are managingthis incident.

12:31:48 PM 24 January, 2003

The fire is quiet at the moment. It isnot controlled but crews are at present working to complete control lines. Thefire is being worked on by Forestry crews along with some resources from TFS.The fire has burnt approx 200 hectares. There are nostructures under any threat

11:03:10 AM 24 January, 2003

There is significant smoke haze over Hobart’s suburbs andnearby areas, TFS requests people to not reports this smoke as it is coming fromknown fires. Some people may have health problems fromsmoke. Asthmatics, the elderly and others with respiratory problems should stayinside with the doors and windows closed. If breathingproblems develop, please seek medical assistance.

Source: Tasmania Fire Service (TFS)

Currentweather situation, forecasts, fireweather Actual fire Situation Tasmania Actual Fire Situation Maps, Tasmania More Information on Australian Fires IFFN country notes Further Information Australian and New Zealand links. Background information Recent Media Highlights on Fire, Policies, and Politics

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