GFMC: Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

28 January 2003

Latest satellite images: BushfiresRaging in Southeast Australia

Fragmentsof the BIRD 3.8µm channel image showing the Canberra region on 26 January 2003at 00:50 GMT. Source: German Aerospace Center. BIRD website:



This Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) imagegives some idea of the broad reach of the smoke from the fires burning insoutheastern Australia. The smoke (more yellow in color than the clouds itshares the skies with) on 19 January  2003 (updated on 27 January 2003),was being drawn eastward by the low pressure system visible to the south (left).Over subsequent days, the wind has shifted, first drawing the smoke towards thesouthwest, and then reversing course, once again pushing the smoke eastward.Image provided by the SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, andORBIMAGE

Source:NASA/ EO



The weather in southeast Australia refuses to cooperate with firefightersbattling dozens of out-of-control bushfires in the Great Dividing RangeMountains in southeast New South Wales and northeast Victoria. Crews arepreparing for another long weekend. Temperatures over the Jan. 25 weekend areexpected to reach 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), and gusty winds willcontinue to fan the flames. This true-color ModerateResolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image from the Terrasatellite on 24  January  2003, shows the detection of active firesmarked with red dots. The billowing smoke drapes the southern part of thecontinent. To south, a few fires were detected on Tasmania as well. West ofTasmania, the waters are swirling with color, which could indicate a bloom ofmarine plants called phytoplankton.

Source:NASA/ EO



Heat signatures (red), burn scars(charcoal), and smoke (light blue haze) are visible from fires burning out ofcontrol in  southeastern  Australia  in this ModerateResolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image  from 26  January 2003, captured by theTerra satellite. 




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)



CSARADARSAT-1 Disaster Watch
Thefollowing requests were acquired under the MCS Disaster Watch:

NewSouth Wales – Victoria, Bushfires, Australia (2 images):

  • 26 Jan 2003 19:05:22 UTC; S7-16; cycle 109 orbit 262.59977 duration 0.00862; OBR: -GSS

  • 27 Jan 2003 09:00:47 UTC; S5-16; cycle 109 orbit 270.89112 duration 0.00862; OBR: -GSS

For moreinformation see:

CSARADARSAT-1 Disaster Watch
c/o: SatelliteOperations
CanadianSpace Agency



Overview Australia 

Australia prepares for more fire drama
Tuesday, 28 January 2003,  08:34 GMT

Australians are bracing themselves for further bush fires, as forecasters warnof searing temperatures and high winds on Wednesday.  But with thousands offirefighters worked to shore up defences in the vulnerable south-east region,one of their colleagues appeared in a Melbourne court charged with arson. John Christopher Andersen, 18, a volunteer firefighter from Victoria state, wasarrested close to a fire on Monday and is charged with lighting 12 fires overthe past six weeks in a forest north of Melbourne. While much of Australia isbattling the fires, parts of the north-east are suffering from flooding. The isolated community of Burketown in Queensland’s Gulf of Carpentaria has beencut off for three weeks, and supplies were airlifted to the area on Tuesday. Local council chief executive Craig Turnour said the town – much of which isbuilt on stilts – had been caught unprepared by the flooding. “There’s no fresh milk, fruit or vegetables, bread is very limited, so it’sjust a matter of stocking up on those things until the roads open again,”he said. Many people in south-east Australia had a brief respite from the fireson Monday, as light rain and cooler temperatures brought relief to bothfirefighters and residents. More than 1,000 evacuees returned to their homes,although resort towns such as Cooma and Jindabyne remained under threat.Firefighters took advantage of the milder conditions, with 4,000 people engagedin a process known as back burning – creating firebreaks by deliberatelyscorching the earth with small fires to prevent the ground from burning again.”We have a window of 24 hours to get things done,” New South Walesstate Rural Fire Service spokesman John Winter said on Tuesday. “Conditionswill be a lot worse tomorrow and very difficult on Thursday.” So faremergency teams have prevented a repeat of last weekend’s disaster near thefederal capital, Canberra – where four people were killed and 530 homes went upin flames. But the authorities warned that after a month of wild fires in theregion, many blazes were still out of control. Some 80 blazes continue to burnacross New South Wales, including one in the Royal National Park bordering thesouth-eastern suburbs of Australia’s largest city, Sydney. The fires have beenfed by bone-dry conditions, following 10 months of El Nino-aggravated drought.

Source: BBC news

Vic blazes joined, creating a massive front 
Tue, 28  January 2003   06:05 PM AEDT

Two blazes have joined in Victoria’s north-east creating amassive fire front of about 140 kilometres long. The two blazes known asthe Pinnabar and Bogong fires now stretch from Mt Feathertop to south ofCorryong. Fire crews have asked the communities of Omeo, Benambra, Mt Hotham andHarrietville to remain vigilant ahead of a wind change which could see the firemove in their direction. 

Source: ABC news

Weather to give fires new puff mid-week
Monday, 27  January 2003   11:05 PM AEDT

Firefighters battling blazes in south-eastern Australia are bracing fordeteriorating weather by the middle of the week. Conditions in New South Walesand Victoria eased overnight, offering firefighters some respite. Firefightersin New South Wales are hoping the cooler conditions will allow them to containdozens of bushfires burning in the state’s south. The Snowy Mountains remainsthe main trouble spot.  Flames have come close to some settlements but noproperties have been damaged.  Residents of Wee Jasper, north-west ofCanberra, remain on high alert due to a fire burning in the Burrinjuck Dam area.In Victoria, lighter winds and rising humidity offered firefighters battlingblazes in the state’s north-east a brief reprieve after a horror weekend. Morethan 15 houses were destroyed by fire near Omeo yesterday, while areas nearBright, Wandilagong, Mitta Mitta and Dartmouth remain under the most seriousthreat. Authorities have been unable to confirm if the Pinnabar and Bogong fireshave joined up, though they say it is inevitable. 

Source: ABC news


Immediate fire threat in A.C.T.  is over
Posted: Tue, 28Jan 2003 18:09 AEDT

ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope has formally liftedCanberra’s state of emergency, which was declared after the fires 10 days ago.The powers have been in the hands of chief police officer John Murray, who hasacted as the Territory controller for most of that time. Mr Stanhope has alsoannounced that former Commonwealth Games gold medalist Robert DeCastella will bepart of the bushfire recovery task force, which will be headed by former SOCOGorganiser Sandy Hollway.  He says the immediate fire threat is over. “It’s a relief, I think it’s very important,” Mr Stanhope said.

ABC news


Racing against time 
Posted: Tue, 28 Jan 2003 8:09 GMT

Volunteer firefighters from the NSW Rural Fire Service will be racing against time to build and consolidate containment lines around bushfires across the State before the onset of expected bad bushfire weather conditions on Wednesday and Thursday. 
“While we have taken the opportunity to stand down some of our firefighters for much needed rest, the more than one thousand firefighters who remain in the field, particularly in southern NSW, are racing to rebuild containment lines around bushfires,” said NSW Rural Fire Service Assistant Commissioner Operations Shane Fitzsimmons. 
“While the weekend displayed how effectively our containment plans worked and the readiness and capability of our firefighters against tough fire weather conditions, we nevertheless witnessed the bushfires in the southern part of NSW break through many of our containment lines.”
“With close to half a million hectares having been burnt out in the area between the Yass district and through the Snowy Mountains to the Victorian border, our work is still cut out for us to contain these fires. The weather on Wednesday and Thursday is expected to be very hot, dry and windy and this will again see these fires flare up.”
“Our crews will be using the next 24 hours to backburn and we will also be deploying around 50 heavy bulldozers and graders to help cut new containment lines.”
“We must recognise the ongoing efforts of our volunteers. Today marks the 124th day of continuous declarations of ‘bushfire emergencies’ under s44 of the Rural Fires Act. This has been our most protracted bush firefighting season on record and highlights the effect that the drought is having on fire behaviour. We should also applaud those employers who have continued to allow our volunteers leave from their jobs, as well as those self-employed volunteers who have put their businesses on hold to go off and fight fires across the State,” said Asst. Commissioner Fitzsimmons.

Source: NSW Rural FireService 

Total Fire Ban  for 29 January 2003

The Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service has declared a Total Fire Ban inthe following Weather Forecast Districts:
Upper Western, Lower Western, North West Plains, Central West Plains, CentralWest Slopes, South West Slopes, Southern Tablelands, South Coast and Riverina.
The weather forecast for this area is very high temperature, low humidity andmoderate to strong winds. These conditions are conducive to fire activity andthe community is urged to take particular care. Fire danger in this area will beextreme or approaching extreme.
The Total Fire Ban will become effective for the 24 hours from MIDNIGHT TONIGHT,Tuesday, January 28, 2003 until MIDNIGHT Wednesday, 29 January 2002.
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 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 moreinformation (Please note this is for MEDIA INQUIRIES ONLY):
Media Only (02) 98981855

Statewide Fire Update for   28 January 2003, 1700

About 1000 Firefighters worked hard today to consolidate containment lines before weather conditions deteriorate tomorrow. 
Weather today has offered temporary respite with fire activity generally moderate. This respite is being used to conduct backburning, trail clearing and property protection measures across firegrounds in NSW. Particular attention is being paid to fires in southeastern NSW in the Kosciuszko National Park and the Yarrowlumla complex. Over 500,000ha has been consumed by these fires since January 8 when they started by lightning strike.  Weather conditions tomorrow and Thursday are expected to be as bad as the weekend with hot dry winds predicted. Many of these fires remain uncontained and could run heavily under forecasted conditions. Total Fire Bans have been declared for Upper Western, Lower Western, North West Plains, Central West Plains, Central West Slopes, South West Slopes, Southern Tablelands, South Coast and Riverina weather districts.

Yarrowlumla Complex
The fireground spreads over 227,935ha from northeast of Wee Jasper in the north to Michelago 75 km south and includes areas of the ACT and NSW.  The fire is burning in the Brindabella National Park in the north, Kosciuszko National Park in the southwest and Namadgi National Park in the centre and south.  Over 400 personnel are working on the fire in the Yarrowlumla, Queanbeyan, Yass and Cooma Rural Fire Districts, with out-of-area crews from around NSW continuing to assist local brigades.

South Eastern Division:
Crews are consolidating containment lines to keep fire west of the Murrumbidgee River, west of the Monaro Highway, through active mop up and patrol.

Western Division:
Patrol and monitor containment line along Brindabella Rd in Brindabella Valley west of the Goodradigbee River and provide property protection measures. Crews in the division are liaising with Tumut crews to manage a backburn near Bombolo pine forest as required.

South (Cooma):
Containment lines east of Old Boboyan Rd through to the Murrumbidgee sector continue to be patrolled and the depth of blacking out increased.
Backburning was conducted in Kennedy, Sams Creek and Poverty sectors in the Yaouk area yesterday along with aerial ignition of unburned areas north of Sams Creek and Poverty sectors. Aerial reconnaissance indicated good depth and patrolling and mop up continued today.
Construction of fall back containment lines continued.
Northern Division: Crews tasked by Yarrowlumla (includes out of area firefighters) are constructing fallback lines to the west and east of the Murrumbidgee River within both Yass and Yarrowlumla areas.

North (Yass):
Over 250 firefighters in the Yass Rural Fire District are working on the Childowla fire around Lake Burrinjuck and the northern section of the Yarrowlumla complex.
Weather conditions are assisting with mild with 15kph northeast winds, 26 degree temperatures and relative humidity at 55 per cent.

Yass section of Yarrowlumla Complex:
Yass is controlling the Doctors Flat, Folley, Fairlight and Sawyers Gulley sectors, the northern division of the Yarrowlumla Complex.
The fire is active in Doctors Flat and Follies where backburning 35km south of Wee Jasper is be conducted and is going well. The large controlled burn is 9km long and is burning in timber country around Narrengullen Mountain. Aerial incendiary work was conducted in the ridges.
Mopping up and patrolling operations are occurring in Fairlight and along a backburn on Ledgers Trail in Sawyers Gulley divisions.
Crews from Cumberland and Great Lakes RFS Task Forces are working with Yass crews and National Parks and Wildlife Service firefighters in these areas.

The fire has burned 12,700ha around Lake Burrinjuck and moved across the dam wall under adverse weather conditions on Sunday into Black Andrew Recreation Area. The fire is burning in a southerly direction and is not threatening property at this time.
Backburning on the southwest side of the fire, 5km north of Wee Jasper, is going well.
This containment line will link into work being done by Tumut Rural Fire District on the western side of the fire.
Residents of the Wee Jasper area are not under immediate threat, however, they are asked to be aware of fire in their general area and to undertake appropriate property preparation. There are particular concerns if adverse weather conditions do occur over the next two days.

Kosciuszko National Park
Milder conditions today allowed fire fighters to assess fire expansion from the previous two days and to control the spread of fire into new areas by establishing control lines and mopping up and blacking out spot overs.

North Kosciuszko Fire Complex
In the north, fire fighters have today taken advantage of the milder weather and strengthened containment lines to the west, north and east of Yaouk valley, consolidated the Upper Murray Powerline easement and Yellow Bog Road in the Tooma River area, and strengthened containment lines around the southern part of the Burrinjuck fire. Mopping up and patrolling continued today at all fire areas.

South Kosciuszko Fire Complex
Kosciuszko Road : Conditions on Sunday resulted in a fire surrounding the Guthega Village and burning up to Blue Cow Mountain. Today fire fighters continued mop and patrol around Guthega, Wilsons Valley, Sawpit Creek and Waste Point. Property protection plans remain in place for all resorts.

Thredbo Valley : Fire crews spent today containing spot fires from the Brindle Bull fire establishing containment lines as well as mopping up and patrol around assets, as the fire moved slowly down the Thredbo Valley. There are no properties under direct threat from this fire.

Public Meeting: A public meeting will be held today at the Jindabyne Visitors Centre Cinema to provide an update on the current fire situation at 5pm (28/01).

The Queensland Ridge fire continues to burn in the Border Ranges National Park, a World Heritage Listed area that includes rainforest. Properties are not currently under threat by the fire, which began over a week ago by lightning strike. RFS volunteers are working with NPWS firefighters on the blaze. It has burned about 250ha.
The 750ha Bungdoozle fire in the Richmond Range is contained.

For moreinformation (Please note this is for MEDIA INQUIRIES ONLY):Media Only (02) 98981855

Websites:    or

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

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

Source: NSW Rural FireService 




Firefightersreinforce containment lines
Posted: Tue, 28 Jan 2003 18:09 AEDT

Victorianfirefighters will work throughout the night to strengthen containment linesahead of worsening weather conditions tomorrow. Two of the fires in thestate’s north-east have now joined to form a massive blaze, stretching 140kilometres from Mt Feathertop to south of Corryong. Fire crews have askedthe communities of Omeo, Benambra, Mt Hotham and Harrietville to remain vigilantahead of a wind change which could see the fire move in their direction.Department of Sustainability and Environment spokesperson Marcia Johns saysfirefighters used today’s cooler conditions to prepare for tomorrow. “Todaythe weather has been favourable enough for us to do some further backburningaround Hotham and around Omeo and smaller townships in the area,” she said.”We have around 83 bulldozers working on the fire at the moment to do allwe can to strengthen containment lines, especially in the south, because we areexpecting the winds to turn northerly again and strengthen tomorrow.”

ABC news

Blazes creating a 140 kilometer front
Posted: Tue, 28 Jan 2003 18:09AEDT

Two blazes have joined in Victoria’s north-east creating a massive fire frontof about 140 kilometres long. The two blazes known as the Pinnabar and Bogongfires now stretch from Mt Feathertop to south of Corryong. Fire crews have askedthe communities of Omeo, Benambra, Mt Hotham and Harrietville to remain vigilantahead of a wind change which could see the fire move in their direction. MarciaJohns from the Department of Sustainability and Environment says firefightersare concentrating on strengthening containment lines in the south. “We’reexpecting the winds to turn northerly again and strengthen tomorrow with thehigh temperatures so we are trying to do as much as we can now so tomorrow wehave the best chance at keeping those assets safe,” she said. Two newhelitankers have arrived from the US to help in the bushfire fighting effort.Meanwhile Victorian Premier Steve Bracks admits more fuel reduction burningneeds to be done in Victorian forests to reduce the threat of bushfires. Thereis growing criticism of the Government’s fire prevention tactics but Mr Brackssays climatic conditions have prevented large-scale hazard reduction burns.”There’s no doubt that we’ll be examining all these matters, once we havethese fires out,” he said. “But as with every fire, we will learn byit as we have in the past as well and there’s no doubt that we will be seekingto do more fuel reduction more back burning, more hazard reduction in our parksin the future.” He says even backburning has risks. “The issue is canyou do it when you’ve got a period in our history where there’s a droughtoccurred over four or five years, continuous operation where the ground is verydry and you have to be very aware that when you’re doing it, you’re not going tocause loss to property and loss of lives from backburning itself,” he said. 
Emergency authorities have urged people in the Snowy Mountains to remain onalert, with extreme fire conditions expected on Thursday. Milder conditions overthe past two days have allowed backburning to continue in the resort areas andalong Kosciuszko Road. Further north, backburning and water bombing is takingplace around a fire near the town of Wee Jasper. Laurence Orel from the NationalParks and Wildlife Service says the Snowy Mountains fires are of major concernand residents should not be complacent.  “We are certainly remindingpeople to remain alert, that until we have substantial rain, in general the firedanger will remain,” he said.  Authorities have evacuated buildings onBribie Island, north of Brisbane, where a bushfire is threatening an industrialestate. The blaze, which has been burning on-and-off for the past week, hasflared again near First Avenue at Bongarie. Senior fire officer Ross Nunn saysthe bushfire jumped containment lines this morning. “We have evacuated theindoor bowls club, the bridge club, the Caboolture Shire Council depot and theSES premises and a number of other assorted sheds,” he said. “We dohave the fire under control at this point in time.” 

Source: ABC news

Statewide Update 28 January 2003

Map of North East Fires 28th Jan 9am
Below is a link to a map of the current fires situation in the NorthEast of Victoria.  Note that the grey areas reflect previously burnt areas(prior to yesterday) and that the red areas reflect yesterday’s activity. Viewthe map (224kb gif – may take a moment or two)

Update on Small Grassfire in theSeaford Area 28th Jan 5.30pm
The grassfire in the Seaford Reserve near the Seaford Station isclose containment. 
CFA has 10 appliances and a Helitack on scene to extinguish the fire.

Bogong East Fires Update 28th Jan 5.30pm 
Mount Hotham is currently experiencing ember attack as expected. CFA crews areon scene and managing any ignitions as they arise.

Small Grassfire in the Seaford Area 28th Jan 4.50pm
CFA would like to report there is currently a small grassfire in theSeaford Reserve, near the Seaford Station. CFA has 5 Tankers and 1 Pumper onscene and are currently investigating aircraft needs.

Bogong East Fires Update 28th Jan 5pm
Firebreaks and Asset Protection are Priorities. Fire crews are using thewindow of opportunity afforded by the milder conditions to focus heavily onbackburning and firebreaks to protect communities before tomorrow’s predictedhot weather.Backburning has continued towards Mt Mesley north of Omeo today andif favourable conditions persist, unburnt areas on the mountain will be burntout tonight.Areas of concern continue to be south west of Hotham and DinnerPlain, where backburning operations are underway, and east of Omeo and Benambra,where spotovers flared up on Sunday. Progress is slow on the backburns asextreme caution is still necessary. The spotovers remain contained with crews inattendance. Spot fires in the upper Dargo River have burnt up towards the Alpineroad east of Dinner plain, crews in attendance are monitoring and look tobackburn from the road this afternoon. Fire activity south of Hotham is causingembers to drop in the Davenport Village area of Hotham. Property lossesconfirmed in the area affected by Sunday’s fire activity are: six houses atCobungra, seven houses in the Bundara, Beloka, Shannonvale area, four housesnorth of Benambra, one shearing shed, eight other structures (sheds etc.) andtwo bridges (Livingstone Bridge and Gibbo River bridge). There have been noreports of property loss at Hotham Village. The Department of PrimaryIndustries, in conjunction with the EG Shire will be coordinating burial pitsfor those landholders who have suffered stock losses in the fires. This is afree service to assist landholders and to ensure that dead stock are disposed ofin an environmentally sensitive manner. Please contact the Community FireInformation line on 1800 668 066 for advice and assistance and to report anystock losses. DPI vets and Animal health staff are also available to assist withthe care of injured stock and the humane destruction of suffering stock. Contactthe 1800 668 066 number for this assistance.

Alpine Fires Update 28th Jan 6am
Statewide Alpine Fires Update

Cooler Conditions Aid Fire Crews in Asset Protection

Cooler conditions were experienced throughout the fire areas yesterday and theseallowed crews to further consolidate containment lines around threatenedcommunities. This milder weather should continue through today, although warminglater with light westerly winds.
The Bogong Complex of fires (Mt Feathertop, Bogong and Razorback) has reachedthe Mt Benambra Rd and is spotting into the State forest north of Mitta Mitta.It is currently threatening the communities of Tallangatta Valley, Mitta Mittaand Eskdale. Last night an alert was issued for these communities due tosignificant fire behaviour. This alert remains in force.
The Eldorado and Stanley fires, near Beechworth were contained yesterday, havingburnt over 15,000 hectares.
The current Alpine fires have now burnt more than 400, 000 hectares of parks andforests.

The ‘Pinnibar’ complex of fires (south of Corryong) has now burnt over 74,000hectares of Victorian park and forest. A spot over in the Tallangatta Valley hasburnt 80 hectares and the fire has also reached the Wabba Wilderness Park. Afocus of the Pinnabar fire continues to be the protection of assets in theNariel Valley. In the Dartmouth sector, work commenced on a western control lineto link the Cravensville fire and the Mitta Mitta River.
The Bogong Complex of fires (Mt Feathertop, Bogong and Razorback) was lateyesterday threatening the communities in the upper Tallangatta Valley, and atMitta Mitta and Eskdale. The Bogong fires have burnt around 270,000 hectares ofpark and forest. Asset protection today will again focus Mt Beauty,Harrietville, and Bright in the north and Omeo, Benambra, Swift’s Creek andother smaller communities in the south.
The fire in the Mt Buffalo National Park has burnt in excess of 35, 000hectares. Fire south of Bright and north of Wandiligong burnt through the dayand last night. Containment lines being constructed focus on asset protectionfrom Smoko to Wandiligong.

Today: Warm (mid 30s) to hot. Winds easing to the north east during the day.Initially west (15-20kph).
Wednesday: Hot with northerly winds freshening ahead of a south west change.Fire danger extreme.
Thursday: The front will move through N/E Victoria during the morning. Hot gustynortherly winds will precede the change. Fire danger extreme.

Around 1770 personnel from the Government agencies, around 1,500 CFA personnelfrom outside the Region (supporting local volunteer brigades), 157 Armypersonnel, 115 South Australian personnel, 33 New Zealand alpine firespecialists, 2 personnel from NSW and 1 from QLD Rural Fire Service, 1 NSW StateForests, 1 USA, 25 aircraft, over 200 specialised vehicles and 83 bulldozers.
Major strategies and tactics continue to be reviewed in the light of Wednesday’sand Thursday’s predicted weather forecasts.

The Department of Sustainability and Environment, Department of PrimaryIndustries, Parks Victoria, the Country Fire Authority, local plantation companybrigades, forest industry crews and equipment, Victoria Police, Red Cross, StJohn Ambulance, the Army Reserve, State Emergency Service, local municipalities,New Zealand fire and conservation agencies, South Australian Country FireService and Parks Service, NSW Rural Fire Service, QLD Rural Fire Service andNSW State Forests.

The CFA have confirmed that three houses were lost north of Benambra, six houseshave been lost near Cobungra and some sheds and stock losses have occurredaround Benambra, Omeo, Cobungra and Jubilee Bridge.
For information on significant fires on private land in rural Victoria, pleasecall the CFA on 13 15 99.
For information regarding public road closures and threats to private property,please call the Victoria Police Emergency Information Line on 1 800 444 343.
For information regarding fires in the Gippsland region, please phone theTraralgon Information Line on 1800 668 066 (between 6am and midnight).
Alpine Shires are maintaining community information phone lines.

During the last week, a number of community meetings have been held. More than3,000 people have now attended these. Last night a community meeting was held atBerringama (west of Corryong). The meetings are designed to assist localresidents and visitors to the area with the current fire situation, and to putin place on-going community networks. Further community meetings will occur asnecessary.
Liaison between local shires/DSE/DPI/CFA/PV and Victoria Police continues on aregular basis, as does liaison with NSW fire agencies. Local Community Updatescontinue to be circulated on a regular basis.
The DSE website ( being regularly updated with fire information, including communitynewsletters.

Victoria has around 7.7 million hectares of parks and forests. In an averagesummer around 620 wildfires occur and these burn around 110, 000 hectares. Todate this season 660 fires have occurred. These have burnt around 640,000hectares. The 20-year average for this time of year is 344 fires, having burntaround 43, 000 hectares.

Gippsland Fires Update 28 Jan 1:30pm
Fire Updates, Community meetings and safety messages  28/01/2003

The northeast section of the Bogong Complex fire has now joinedthe Pinnabar fire. The fire now stretches from about 10km south west of Hothamto the NSW border, covering nearly 350,000 hectares.A milder couple of days haveslowed the movement of the fire, but there is concern about the area to thesouth west of Hotham and Dinner Plain. There have been outbreaks at SplittersRange, east of Omeo, The Brothers and Mount Leinster, east of Benambra. 

The calmer weather conditions are expected to persist today, but tomorrow ispredicted to be another hot and windy day, causing intense fire behaviour.

Community meetings:
Tuesday 28 Jan: Briagolong Recreation Reserve, 7:00pm
Wednesday 29 January: Fernbank Hall, 7:00pm
Thursday 30 January: Goongerah hall, 11:00am
Thursday 30 January: Orbost Football Ground, 4:00pm
Friday 31 January: Old School Club Terrace, 10:00am
Friday 31 January: Newmerella Recreation Reserve, 7:00pm

Meetings held so far have proved very successful in assisting residents to learnmore about the fire situation, how it may affect them and how to prepare.
Community noticeboards are displaying information at: Omeo Hall, Omeo FireStation, Omeo Staging Area, Benambra Fire Station, Blue Duck Hotel, Swifts CreekGeneral Store, Ensay Store, Ensay Little River Inn, Cassilis Winery.

How will it affect you?

As the firefront passes, communities are left with the mopping up operations andassessing any damage. There have been significant stock injuries and lossesafter Sunday’s fire. Residents are urged to call the Gippsland Community FireInformation line on 1800 668 066 to report their losses and to get help with thecare or humane destruction of injured stock. DPI Vets and Animal Health Officerswill be available to assist with these tasks.

Donated hay is planned to be available this evening to meet immediate needs.This will be delivered to the Omeo Staging Area (football oval).

For residents in the Omeo and Benambra areas, the Omeo Oval is your designatedrefuge area. For residents in the Swifts Creek and Cassilis, the Swifts CreekSecondary College is your designated refuge area and for Ensay residents, theEnsay Hall.

If you leave your home or town you are requested to inform the Australian RedCross staff at your local refuge area, who are keeping track of all movementsduring the fires for safety reasons
If you have already registered but you then change your plans it is important toinform the Red Cross. Also, if you leave your vehicle at a staging area theyshould be informed.

There is colour and odour in the water supply in Omeo. East Gippsland Wateradvises that it has been tested and is safe to drink. There will be animprovement in the water today.

Road closures:
The Omeo Highway north of Bruthen is closed to all vehicles except emergencyvehicles and local traffic.
Omeo Highway between Omeo and Mitta Mitta
Great Alpine Road north of Omeo
Benambra-Corryong road, between Omeo and Corryong
Benambra Road between Uplands and Colac Colac
Benambra-Suggan Buggan Road (Limestone-Black Mountain Road)
Bogong High Plains Road between Falls Creek and Omeo Highway.
Dargo High Plains Road between Dargo & Mt Hotham
No public access to Bogong High Plains, Bogong Village, Mount Hotham Village andFalls Creek.
Further information on Road Closures can be obtained from Victoria PoliceInformation Hotline on 1800 444 343.

Bogong East Fires Update 28th Jan 7am
Cool and moist conditions overnight have allowed fire crews on theBogong Complex to establish containment lines around the numerous spot fireswhich emerged from the intense fire conditions last Sunday. The focus of effortsovernight has been outbreaks at the Splitters Range east of Omeo, and TheBrothers, north east of Benambra and Mt Leinster, east of Benambra. Further backburning was carried out around Mt Hotham, and a six hectare spotover south ofthe Great Alpine Road at Cobungra was controlled.  Later this morning,residents in the Omeo district can expect to see smoke and possibly flame in aback burning operation on Mt Mesley, just north of the town. Deputy IncidentController, Roger Strickland said fire crews will be endeavouring to reduce thehazard posed by unburned fuel on Mt Mesley. ?We?re planning to do this to reducethe chance of an uncontrolled blaze high above Omeo sending embers into thetown. Residents may see aircraft employed in the back burn, Mr Strickland said.Our crews are continuing to work very hard to protect private property in thevicinity of the fire. Days of smoky skies have now cleared to enable the use ofaircraft to observe and bomb the fire. The seriousness of the situation shouldnot be underestimated, with an enormous perimeter of fire, and more hot, windyweather expected in the next couple of days. A public meeting will be held atthe Ensay Hall this morning from 11.00am, to updatethe local community on the current fire situation and to detail the Ensaytownship protection strategy.
 Gippsland residents who have suffered property and livestock losses areencouraged to call the Gippsland Community Fire Informationline: 1800 668 066. 
Those who have lost their fixed phone service in the fire can arrange adiversion to another fixed or mobile service by calling Telstra on: 13 22 03.

Bogong West Fires Update 28th Jan 7am – New Spot Fires Develop Overnight
Significant spot fires from the Bogong complex of fires, the result of freshsoutherly winds late yesterday, are causing concern for firefighters andresidents today. Firefighters continued the work of protecting residents andtheir property overnight.
Long distance spot fires in the Tallangatta Valley and spot fires in theCallaghans Creek area have been recorded on line scans of the area. Last nightstrike teams of firefighters in the Mitta area carried out asset protection workbuilding control lines around private property and patrolling for spot fires.
Dozer work to construct a control line between the Mitta and Kiewa Valleys islargely complete, and containment work between Mitta Valley and Bull Head willcommence today. Firefighters from the Pinnabar fire complex are carrying outprotection work in the Tallangatta Valley, and backburning in the Scrubby Creekarea is planned to assist with the containment work.
Containment line construction work at Harrietville is almost complete withbackburning planned for later in the day.
At Mt Beauty backburning to the NW and SW of the township continued overnight,to contain the fire slowly backing down Big Hill.

North East Fires Update 28th Jan 9am
Last night was mostly quiet overall with crews utilising the milderconditions to continue backburning and strengthening of containment lines.
Today’s objectives are to continue protection of residences, farmlands,outbuildings and stock, particularly in the Wandiligong and Bright area.
The fire at Mt Buffalo is still going and is of concern. The fire has now burntapproximately 36,000ha. The fire has continued backing slowly towards theplantations west of Bright and Wandiligong.
Residents in the vicinity of the Buffalo / Ovens fires are reminded to remainvigilant for ember attack.

Road Closures:
For updates please contact the Victoria Police Information Line on 1800444 343.
The Mt Buffalo Road has been closed at Porepunkah.
The Buckland Valley Road at Porepunkah is closed.
The Bogong High Plains Road is closed at Mt Beauty and there is no public accessto Bogong Village, Falls Creek and the Bogong High Plains.
The Omeo Highway is closed between Omeo and Mitta Mitta.
The Great Alpine Road is closed between Harrietville and Omeo with no publicaccess to the Mt Hotham Village.
Buffalo River Road is closed south of Merriang South.
Dandongadale Road is closed from Dandongadale to Lake Buffalo.
Simmonds Creek Road at the end of private property.
Tawonga Gap Track is closed.
Bakers Gully Road from the end of the sealed road.
Wandiligong Road south of Wandiligong.

Community Meetings:
A community meeting will be held at Mudgegonga Hall at 11AM this morning.

Other meetings:
Tuesday 28 January: Briagolong Recreation Reserve, 7.00pm
Wednesday 29 January: Fernbank Hall, 7.00pm
Thursday 30 January: Goongerah hall, 11.00am
Thursday 30 January: Orbost Football Ground, 4.00pm
Friday 31 January: Old School Club Terrace, 10.00am
Friday 31 January: Newmerella Recreation Reserve, 7.00pm

Residents are advised that future community meetings may be organised at shortnotice in the near future. The Incident Control Centre at Ovens will informlocal radio stations, so stay tuned for any announcements.

For Further Information:
Tune into your local radio stations:

ABC radio FM 106.5, 91.7 or 89.7,
EDGE FM /3NE radio
Mt Beauty & Myrtleford FM 90.1,
Mt Hotham FM 89.3, Buffalo FM 99.1

Schools Update:
During the fires affecting the North East most local schools will not resumebefore Monday 3rd February 2003.
This information will be updated by Friday 31st January to reflect circumstancesat that time.
For any information relating to your school, parents / guardians should contactthe relevant senior education officer listed below.

Stuart Brien: 0417361160
Brian Collins: 0418574106
David Cummins: 0417338475

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: 



Posted: Tue, 28 Jan 2003 18:09 AEDT

Fire crews in Tasmania are continuing to take advantage of mild weatherconditions ahead of an expected return to hot windy weather tomorrow.  Mostblazes around the state have been brought under control and backburning iscontinuing. Kim Creak from Forestry Tasmania says fire crews are still workingon the blazes at Ben Lomond and Mount Saddleback in the north east, Strathgordonin the south west and Mount Dromedary/Broadmarsh, near Hobart.  But MrCreak says the fire crews are far from complacent in the face of more hotweather. “I understand we’re looking at temperatures rising again tomorrowand humidity falling, but we’re in a pretty good state of preparedness, and withrested crews I’m sure we’ll be able to cope with it as long as it doesn’t getinto blow up conditions.”

Source: ABC news

06:02:36 PM 28 January, 2003

A Fire Weather Warning has been issued for southeasternTasmania for Wednesday. Many places will have high temperatures and dry airalthough winds are not expected to be very strong. Fire crews will be patrollingaround recent fires to investigate smoke sightings and prevent escapes. Therewill not be a Total Fire Ban.


06:02:09 PM 28 January, 2003

Overnight fire crews continued to monitor and consolidatecontrol lines around the perimeter of the Whites Flat Fire, Lake Crescent.However, at around 1900 hrs an unexpected wind change had all crews protectingstructures in the built up area of Lake Crescent. Fire crews managed to protectthese structures and no losses were reported. A total of 2500 Hectares have beenburnt with 44 firefighters working tirelessly to prevent the fire from spreadingfurther. At this stage no cause has been determined, however TFS isinvestigating the cause. Weather conditions today are allowing firefighters toconduct back burning operations to “tie in” all control lines and fireedges.


12:49:29 PM 28 January, 2003

Backburning operations are expected to begin at 1100 Hoursfrom Back River Road along Handsome Caves Road, which is expected to generate alot of smoke. Another smaller backburn will be put in place 1km North off theBack River Road/Handsome Caves Road. The fire crews are in attendance in boththese areas and the public is asked not to contact the Tasmania Fire Service forsightings of smoke, as it is likely that any such sightings will be the resultof these contained burns.  The remainder of the fire boundary remainscontained and under control.


11:25:34 AM 28 January, 2003

Tasmania Fire Service advises the public that a large amountof smoke is expected from backburning operations at the Handsome Caves area inMagra, commencing at approximately 1130 Hours. People in the Greater Hobart areashould not be alarmed and are asked not to report this smoke to the TasmaniaFire Service. The smoke will be the result of the extensive control effortsbeing made by fire crews to contain this fire and secure the boundaries.

Tasmania Fire Service (TFS)

With letters directed to the A.C.T. Bushfire Service and the CFA Victoria on 26January 2003 the GFMC has offered liaison with Russia for the deployment ofIL-76 air tankers to assist the Australian authorities in fire suppression.

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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