Latest satellite images:BushfiresRaging in Southeast Australia
Fragmentsof the BIRD 3.8µm channel image showing the Canberra region on 28 January 2003 Source: German Aerospace Center. BIRD website: http://spacesensors.dlr.de/SE/bird/index.html
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
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.
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.
Night-timeimage from ATSR-2 instrument (3.7 micron channel) onboard ESA ERS-2 satellite showing the vegetation fire situation in South Eastern Australia (N.S.W., A.C.T. and Victoria) on 21 January 2003. Saturated pixels (312K) are shown in red and correspond to the high-temperature events as usually recorded by the ATSR-2 fire atlas (algorithm 1). The fire fronts are clearly visible on that image. Source: ESA, courtesy M.Simon and O. Arino. ATSR-2 World Fire Atlas website: http://shark1.esrin.esa.it/ionia/FIRE/
CSARADARSAT-1 Disaster Watch Thefollowing requests were acquired under the MCS Disaster Watch:
NewSouth Wales – Victoria, Bushfires, Australia (2 images):
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
Fire Weather Index for the Pacific Region for tomorrow. (Source: ECPCFire Weather Index Forecast)
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.
New South Wales Rural Fire Service Commissioner Phil Koperberg has confirmed hehas not yet signed a fire management plan for the Brindabella National Park,where it is believed the Canberra bushfire started. The New South WalesOpposition has accused the Carr Government of a cover-up over the implementationof fire management plans for southern New South Wales national parks. TheGovernment said last week that district fire plans supercede individual plansfor national parks and that all district plans are in place. Mr Koperberg admitshe is yet to sign off on a plan for the Canberra district but argues that itwould not necessarily have made a difference to the devastating fires of afortnight ago. “It’s irrelevant for two reasons. One is that anyonemanaging land or owning land could have done hazard reduction in any event withor without the plan because it’s their statutory right to do so,” he said.”Secondly even if I’d signed the plan off on the 1st of November or the 1stof October it wouldn’t have made any difference because hazard reduction is notcarried out during the summer months
NSW RuralFirefighters go to Aid of Victorians Wednesday, 29 January 2003
Twenty bushfire tankers with around 100 volunteer NSW Rural Firefighters arebound for Victoria today to assist with the firefighting effort that now spansthree borders. Our Victorian counterparts have readily come to our assistance during ourrecent major bushfires, most notably during the Christmas 2001 bushfires. Wehave been working side-by-side in combating the fires in the Snowy Mountainsregion since January 8, so this is just the next step, said NSW Rural FireService Commissioner Phil Koperberg. Volunteer firefighters from the Greater Sydney area and surrounding districts,as well as those from around the Albury area will depart for Delegate in the farsouth of the State on Wednesday morning before being deployed to fight the northeastern Victorian fires. NSW is also expecting worsening fire weather over the period of Wednesday andThursday with particular concern for the major bushfires between in the SnowyMountains and in the areas of NSW around the ACT. Additional Task Forces of firecrews from across the State will be deployed into these areas of concern as well.
The Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service has declared a Total Fire Ban inthe following Weather Forecast Districts: STATEWIDE
The weather forecast for NSW is very high temperature, low humidity and moderateto strong winds. These conditions are conducive to fire activity and thecommunity is urged to take particular care. Fire danger in this area will beextreme or approaching extreme. The Total Fire Ban will become effectivefor the 24 hours from MIDNIGHT TONIGHT, Wednesday, January 29, 2003 untilMIDNIGHT Thursday, 30 January 2002. During a Total Fire Ban no fire of any kindmay be lit in the open. This includes incinerators and barbecues, which burnsolid fuel, e.g. wood or charcoal. You may use a gas or electric barbecue, butonly 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 http://www.bom.gov.au/weather/nsw/dist_map.shtml.
Members of the public can phone 1 800 654443 or their local NSW Rural Fire Service Fire Control Centre for moreinformation
For moreinformation (Please note this is for MEDIA INQUIRIES ONLY):Media Only (02) 98981855
Statewide Fire Update for 29 January 2003
About 1000 Firefighters are working hard today to consolidate containmentlines before weather conditions deteriorate this afternoon and tomorrow. Weatheryesterday offered temporary respite with fire activity generally moderate. Thisrespite was used to conduct backburning, trail clearing and property protectionmeasures across firegrounds in NSW. Particular attention is being paid to firesin 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 arebelieved to have been started by lightning strikes. Weather conditions today andtomorrow 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 forecastedconditions. 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 248, 212ha from northeast of Wee Jasper in the northto 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 thecentre and south. Over 400 personnel are working on the fire in the Yarrowlumla, Queanbeyan, Yassand Cooma Rural Fire Districts, with out-of-area crews from around NSWcontinuing to assist local brigades.
South Eastern Division: Crews are continuing to consolidate containment lines to keep fire west of theMurrumbidgee River, west of the Monaro Highway, through active mop up andpatrol.
Western Division: Patrol and monitor containment line along Brindabella Rd in Brindabella Valleywest of the Goodradigbee River and provide property protection measures.
South (Cooma): Containment lines east of Old Boboyan Rd through to the Murrumbidgee sectorcontinue to be patrolled and the depth of blacking out increased. Backburning was conducted in Kennedy, Sams Creek and Poverty sectors in theYaouk area yesterday along with aerial ignition of unburned areas north of SamsCreek and Poverty sectors. Aerial reconnaissance indicated good depth andpatrolling and mop up continued today. Construction of fall back containment lines continued.
Northern Division: Crews tasked by Yarrowlumla (includes out of area firefighters) are constructingfallback lines to the west and east of the Murrumbidgee River within both Yassand Yarrowlumla areas.
Yass section of Yarrowlumla Complex: Yass is controlling the Doctors Flat, Folley, Fairlight and Sawyers Gulleysectors, the northern division of the Yarrowlumla Complex. The fire is active in Doctors Flat and Follies where backburning 35km south ofWee Jasper is be conducted and is going well. The large controlled burn is 9kmlong and is burning in timber country around Narrengullen Mountain. Aerialincendiary work was conducted in the ridges. Mopping up and patrolling operations are occurring in Fairlight and along abackburn on Ledgers Trail in Sawyers Gulley divisions. Crews from Cumberland and Great Lakes RFS Task Forces are working with Yasscrews and National Parks and Wildlife Service firefighters in these areas.
Childowla: The fire has burned 12,700ha around Lake Burrinjuck and moved across the damwall under adverse weather conditions on Sunday into Black Andrew RecreationArea. The fire is burning in a southerly direction and is not threateningproperty at this time. Backburning on the southwest side of the fire, 5km north of Wee Jasper, is goingwell. This containment line will link into work being done by Tumut Rural FireDistrict on the western side of the fire. Residents of the Wee Jasper area are not under immediate threat, however, theyare asked to be aware of fire in their general area and to undertake appropriateproperty preparation. There are particular concerns if adverse weatherconditions do occur over the next two days.
Kosciuszko National Park Milder conditions yesterday allowed fire fighters to assess fire expansion fromthe previous two days and to control the spread of fire into new areas byestablishing control lines and mopping up and blacking out spot overs. Crews arepreparing for adverse conditions this afternoon and tomorrow. The main areas of focus are in the southeast.
North Kosciuszko Fire Complex In the north, fire fighters have today taken advantage of the milder weather andstrengthened containment lines to the west, north and east of Yaouk valley,consolidated the Upper Murray Powerline easement and Yellow Bog Road in theTooma River area, and strengthened containment lines around the southern part ofthe Burrinjuck fire. Mopping up and patrolling will continue today at all fireareas.
South Kosciuszko Fire Complex Kosciuszko Road : Yesterday firefighters continued mop and patrol aroundGuthega, Wilsons Valley, Sawpit Creek and Waste Point. Property protection plansremain in place for all resorts. Thredbo Valley: Fire crews spent yesterday containing spot fires from theBrindle Bull fire establishing containment lines as well as mopping up andpatrol around assets, as the fire moved slowly down the Thredbo Valley. Thereare no properties under direct threat from this fire. Public Meeting: A public meeting will be held today at the Berridale CommunityHall to provide an update on the current fire situation at 7pm (29/01).
Kyogle The Queensland Ridge fire continues to burn in the Border Ranges National Park,a World Heritage Listed area that includes rainforest. Properties are notcurrently under threat by the fire, which began over a week ago by lightningstrike. RFS volunteers are working with NPWS firefighters on the blaze. It hasburned 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
Flames trap 150 inside Victorian naval base Wed, Jan 29 2003 5:52 PM AEDT
A bushfire has trapped 150 staff and residents inside a naval base onVictoria’s Mornington Peninsula. The 600-metre fire front is on the border of HMAS Cerebus, near Cribb Point.Firefighters are working to protect homes, other properties and ti-treeplantations. A newly arrived Skycrane water bombing helicopter is beingsent in. The base’s childcare centre was evacuated as a precaution and theCountry Fire Authority says residents are on alert. Residents say the fire grewwithin minutes. A fire has erupted in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Cranbourne,south-east of Melbourne, and 15 trucks are battling another blaze in PeachStreet at Pearcedale on the Mornington Peninsula.
Mitta-Mitta In a paddock between Mitta Mitta and Dartmouth, residents are waiting for thebushfires to come. Some farmers in the north-east have been sleeping in theirpaddocks at night to defend their land. Mitta Mitta farmer Hugh Giltrap hasstood guard on the edge of his property. Neighbours arrived around lunchtimewith water pumps and hoses on their utes. Flames can be seen in the mountainssurrounding the farm. Mr Giltrap says in times of drought farmers must do allthey can to protect their feed. “Wait two months or we could wait sixmonths until the drought breaks. Cattle can’t eat bloody dust or ash,” hesaid. Spot fires around Mitta Mitta and Dartmouth this afternoon have beenfanned by strong north-westerly winds.
Bribie blaze Up to 80 houses, an RSL club and a war veterans’ home have been evacuated onBribie Island north of Brisbane as fire crews battle to control a largebushfire. About 40 firefighters, police and SES personnel are backburning aroundhouses while reinforcements are on standby. No property has been lost butstation officer Ross Nunn says the situation is very serious. “This areahasn’t burnt since 1994 and the bush is that thick that you can’t even walkthrough it,” he said. “The trees are approximately 30 to 40 feet inheight, so we have a fire of some magnitude through the top.” Fires havecaused problems on the island for the past week.
Temperature rising in north-west Vic 29 January 2003 Posted: 13:30:48 (AEDT)
Temperatures are tipped to rise to 44 degrees in north-west Victoria today,and the weather bureau says that would put the day among the hottest on record.Mildura’s hottest day was recorded in January 1990 at 46.9 degrees, followed bya 46.5 degree day two years ago. The Mildura weather station says Saturday’s44.5 was the third hottest day in the past 13 years and could be equalled todayif the forecast top is reached. Observer Tony Grasso says today will be thesixth day over 40 this month in Mildura. “That’s increasing the average maxfor the month, the long-term average is 32 degrees and so far today we’ve got33.9, so its almost two degrees above the long-term average and when it getsabove two degrees that’s a little bit significant,” he said.
Pakenham South Fire Update 29th Jan6.30pm There is currently a grass and scrub fire Along Halls Road andKooweerup Road Pakenham South which has burnt approximately 6ha. There iscurrently 12 CFA trucks on scene. Additional fire trucks are on the way to thisfire.
Crib Point Fire Update 29th Jan 6.35pm
This fire is now under control…. The grass and scrub fire in HMAS Cerebus is now under control and has burnt outapproximately 40ha. CFA crews will be on scene for sometime patrolling andblacking out the area. There are no reports of asset damage .
Botanic Gardens Cranbourne Fire Update 29th Jan 5.30pm
This fire is now safe. A small grass and scrub fire started inthe Botanic Gardens in Cranbourne this afternoon. CFA will have crews on scenefor sometime blacking out.
Botanic Gardens Cranbourne Fire Update 29th Jan 4.30pm There is a small grass and scrub fire started in the Botanic Gardensin Cranbourne. CFA has a number of fire trucks deployed to this fire.
Cribb Point Fire Update 29th Jan 4.20pm A grass and scrub fire started in the Crib Point area around 2.30pmthis afternoon and is 2 to 3ha in size. The fire is active and mainly headinginto the HMAS Cerebus Naval base. 150 residents of HMAS Cerebus are unable toleave the area. Fire trucks and crews are protecting these residents. There arecurrently 5 fire trucks on scene with further fire trucks are on the way to helpwith asset protection. The child care centre which is in the path of the firehas been evacuated and all children have been picked up. The new Skycrane andobservation aircraft are working over the fire. There is spotting to the Northbut mainly to the South into the married quarters of the Naval base. The MinorSpotting to the North is no threat to the School. Trains have been stopped inthe area.
Churchill Fire 29th Jan Today a fire was reported at Churchill, south of Morwell. 10 tankersand one aerial appliance attended the fire, which is now under control. Noassets have been lost or are under threat. Fire trucks will remain for some timepatrolling the fire.
Bogong West Fires Update 29th Jan 12pm
Status of the Fires Fire crews are preparing for extreme fire weather today with a forecasttemperature of 40 and strengthening northwest winds. Weather conditionsovernight were mild and allowed crews to backburn successfully west ofHarrietville and southwest of Mt Beauty. Crews will focus on patrolling and blacking out these areas today and detectingand containing any spot fires. High humidity in the Mitta Mitta area prevented planned backburning. The Bogong Fire Complex and Pinnabar Fire Complex south of Corryong have nowjoined and have burnt has now burnt over 280,000 hectares of park and forest.The northeast fires overall have burnt more than 420,000 hectares. Currently3500 personnel, 25 aircraft and 83 bulldozers are deployed to combat the fires.
Mitta Mitta Valley and Upper Tallangatta Valley: Fire activity was moderate overnight. Some spot fires were detected east ofBullhead Creek and have been controlled. Work continues on bulldozing a controlline to the east of Bullhead Creek and Eskdale to contain the fire on the dividebetween the Mitta and Upper Tallangatta Valley. High humidity and light windswere unsuitable for backburning in the Mitta sector of the fire last night.
Bogong Village and Falls Creek: There is no significant fire activity around either location today. The BogongHigh Plains Road remains closed at Mt Beauty due to backburning above the townand debris on the road. The electricity supply to Falls Creek remains cut; land and mobile telephoneservices were re-established yesterday.
Harrietville: Dozers have been working on a control line in the Morses Creek catchment west ofthe town over recent days to protect Harrietville from a possible advance of theBuffalo Fire south of Wandiligong. Last night, backburning off this line was carried out and has succesfully linkedthe existing burnt areas of the Cavalier Spur Fire and the burnt area to thesouthwest of the town. Further backburning in this sector will be carried out asweather conditions allow.
Mt. Beauty: Substantial backburning was undertaken overnight to increase protection on thesouthern flanks of the town in an arc from Bogong Hill to Simmonds Creek Road. Patrol and blacking out of these areas will continue today.
Tawonga: The fire at Tawonga Gap remains contained but continues to require patrol. TheTawonga Gap Road has been re-opened.
Map of North East Fires 29th 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 (priorto yesterday) and that the red areas reflect yesterday’s activity. Overviewmap (237kb jpeg – may take a moment or two) Closerview map (196kb jpeg – may take a moment or two)
Gippsland Fires Update 29th Jan 11:30am
Fire Updates, Community meetings and safety messages
The Fires The north east section of the Bogong Complex fire has joined the Pinnabar fire.The fire now stretches from about 10kms south west of Hotham to the NSW border,covering more than 370000 hectares. New joint Incident Management Teams are being established at Orbost andBairnsdale by DSE/DPI and CFA staff. These will ensure more focused managementof the fire as it moves further into Gippsland. The fire is expected to move south today, driven by the predicted northerlywinds. Many high country communities could be affected, from Hotham through toGelantipy and south to Dargo and Buchan. Residents must be prepared to enacttheir bushfire plans and stay alert for falling embers and resulting spotfires.
Fighting the Fires All efforts today will be focused on protecting lives and assets in affectedareas. Most of the spotfires from Sunday’s flare up have been contained, except forSplitter’s Range between Omeo and Bindi, which crews worked on overnight. Thisis a high priority for today. Backburning has been successfully completed at The Brothers north of Benambra.
Monitoring the Fire No aircraft have been able to get up today because of low visibility, butconditions are starting to clear at Hotham. Mt Mesley, north of Omeo is being closely monitored as conditions have becometoo windy to attempt more backburning.
The Weather Extreme fire weather is predicted for today and part of tomorrow, followed by achange bringing calmer weather and patchy rain late Thursday.
Where to from here? Community meetings are listed below:
Wednesdale 29th Jan: – Fernbank Hall – 7pm
Thursday 30th Jan: – Goongerah Hall – 11am – Orbost Football Ground – 4pm – Nungurner Hall – 7pm
Friday 31st Jan – Old School, club Terrace – 10am – Newmerella Reserve – 7pm
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? School closures: Primary schools at Bruthen, Buchan, Dargo, Goongerah, Omeo, Tubbut, CliftonCreek, Swifts Creek and Swifts Creek Secondary College. Residents in high risk communities are reminded to enact their fire plans now toprotect themselves and their properties. Make the decision about whether toleave, or to stay and defend your property in plenty of time. The more decisions you make now about what to take and what to leave behind, thequicker you will be able to move if the time comes to do so. For residents in the Omeo and Benambra areas, the Omeo Oval is your designatedrefuge area. For residents in the Swifts Creek and>span class=”bold”>Cassilis area, the SwiftsCreek Secondary College is your designated refuge area and for Ensayresidents, the Ensay Hall or Bruthen Hall ifpreferred. For Buchan residents, the Buchan Recreation Reserve is yourdesignated refuge area. Other Emergency Refuge Centres are: Tubbut Hall, Bonang Hall, Delegate RiverTavern, Karoondah Park, Gelantipy. If people are going to move livestock, they need to do it well before the fireapproaches while the road access is ok. Trying to move your stock after theevent will be difficult as the roads could be unsafe. Residents are urged to call the Gippsland Community FireInformation line on 1800 668 066 to report stock losses and to get helpwith the care or humane destruction of injured stock. DPI Vets and Animal HealthOfficers are available to assist with these tasks. DPI and East Gippsland Shire are coordinating burial pits for affectedlandholders. This is a free service, please call 1800 668 066 for assistance. If you leave your home or town you are requested to informthe Australian Red Cross staff at your local refuge area, who are keepingtrack of all movements during 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.
Road closures: The Great Alpine Road north of Bruthen is closed to all vehicles exceptemergency vehicles 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 Gelantipy Road, north of Buchan Snowy River Road McKillops Tourist Road Cabandra Road Dellicknora Road Benambra-Limestone Road No public access to Bogong High Plains, Bogong Village, Mount Hotham Village andFalls Creek.
Safety Messages Tune your car and house radio to local stations (ABC Regional Radio on 100.7 FMor 720 on AM band, 3HCR, High Country Radio on 97.3, 3TR on 99.9FM, Cooma 2XL on92.1FM, ABC Bega on 810AM) and keep listening for fire location information,spread of fires and weather conditions to monitor your local situation so youhave an up to date snapshot of what is happening.
Mt Buffalo Fires Update 29th Jan Overview: The strategy for the next few days will be to ‘funnel’ or direct the southeastern edge of the Buffalo fire, around private assets into the western flankof the Bogong fires (near Harrietville and the Cavalier Spur fire, along theMongrel Creek track). Backburning continued last night near Wandiligong. This significantly increasedthe amount of smoke in the Bright/Wandiligong area. Higher temperatures and N winds forecast for today will create difficultconditions for firefighting. The next 36 hours will be very testing. Ofparticular concern remain the Wandiligong, Harrietville, the outskirts ofBright, the Buckland Valley, Crystal Brook and Wobonga Lane areas. Air operations have been delayed by the thick smoke, but reconnaissance aircraftwill be up ASAP. Recent fire intelligence has been gained from ‘ground truthing’where fire edges are explored by vehicles with GPS plotters.
Community Meeting: A community meeting will be held at the Wandiligong Hall at11AM. Members of the Incident Management Team will be at the meeting toupdate residents on the changing fire situation and to answer any questions fromresidents. All community members and those from surrounding districts areencouraged to attend the meeting.
Community Response: The incident management team at Ovens wishes to recognise and thank allcommunities affected by the Ovens Valley Fires for their response to alerts andsafety plan advice that we have issued. Their continuing co-operation in keeping the roads clear for fire operations,equipment and crew transport between deployments has been fantastic. If you doneed to use the roads, please ensure you drive with your headlights on, foreveryone’s safety. The many boundaries of these fires still remain close to a number ofcommunities, and the calm and positive way that residents have responded tothese threats over recent days has been awe-inspiring. This has become a long campaign, not just for fire crews but for all involvedand we recognise the effort being put in on all fronts, from all organisations,community groups and individual community members. Let’s keep up the fantastic work!
Status of the Fire: The fire at Mt Buffalo is still going and remains of concern. The fire has nowburnt approximately 36,000ha. The fire has continued backing slowly towards theplantations west of Bright and Wandiligong. Residents in the vicinity of all fires are reminded to remain vigilant for emberattack.
Bright, Buckland Valley & Wandiligong – These areas continue to be of concern for the Buffalo / Ovens Valley fires. – These areas will be patrolled by CFA strike teams again today. – Army personnel are using dozers and hand tools to construct furthercontainment lines in the Wandiligong / Growlers area. – Additional backburning will be undertaken today along Cavalier Spur nearWandiligong. – A remote weather station is now based at Wandi for critical local weatherreports.
Demon Ridge – This area is extremely dangerous for crews to work in, and crews arecontinually reminded to identify anchor points and test escape routes. – CFA srike teams will work here today and an army chainsaw crew is also workingthis area. – Patrolling and mopping up will be continued today. – This area will be of particular concern tomorrow with hot north westerly windsand the predicted wind change.late afternoon. – Residents in Buckland Valley, Crystal Brook and Wobonga Lane areas need to beparticularly vigilant over the next couple of days, listening to regular fireupdates on the radio.
Porepunkah – Porepunkah will continue to be patrolled by CFA crews. – Residents in the Porepunkah area still need to remain vigilant.
Ovens Valley – The fire in this area remains within containment lines and was well behavedovernight – Crews will continue patrolling, blacking out and expanding containment linestoday.
Lake Buffalo/Nug Nug CFA strike teams, Hancocks Plantation units, dozers and a shire grader areworking this area today. – The fire in this area remains within containment lines and was well behavedovernight – Crews will undertake more patrolling and blacking out activities today.
Abbeyard (south west side of Mt Buffalo) The Army have a big commitment here today with chainsaw crews, dozers and a handtool crew, 2x DPI crews, a water tanker, the Ballarat CFA Task force andCFA strike team will all be busy on this sector. – Good progress has been made brushing up containment lines overnight. – Backburning has been undertaken south of Dandongadale and will be continuedtoday. – Asset protection continues near Dandongadale and the nearby plantation.
ROAD CLOSURES: For updates please contact the Victoria Police Information Line on 1800 444 343. – The Mt Buffalo Road at Porepunkah. – The Buckland Valley Road at Porepunkah – The Bogong High Plains Road is closedat Mt Beauty and there is no public access to Bogong Village, Falls Creek andthe Bogong High Plains. – The Omeo Highway between Omeo and Mitta Mitta. – The Great Alpine Road between Harrietville and Omeo with no public access tothe Mt Hotham Village. – Buffalo River Road south of Merriang South. – Dandongadale Road from Dandongadale to Lake Buffalo. – Simmonds Creek Road at the end of private property – Tawonga Gap Track. – Bakers Gully Road from the end of the sealed road. – Wandiligong Road south of Wandiligong.
East Gippsland Communities on High Alert 29th Jan 7am Gippsland communities from the NSW border through to around Dargo,can expect to feel the influence of the Bogong Complex fire over the next fewdays, if the forecast hot north westerly winds arrive. Later today and tomorrow, firefighters will face the most challenging conditionssince last Sunday, when fires scorched homes, paddocks and livestock. Incident Controller Ewan Waller said that the Bogong blaze will be driventowards Gelantipy in the east and Dargo in the west, with no realisticopportunities to pull it up. “These remote communities will experience more smoke, and should be onalert should spot fires develop ahead of the main fire front,” Mr Wallersaid. “It was not possible to build containment lines in front of the eastern andwestern ends of the fire because of its sheer length and the terrain. We havecontrolled most of the spot fires thrown off the main blaze last Sunday, but thefront of the fire will be driven along by the coming winds.” All recent efforts have centred on protecting private property, with manykilometres of bulldozed and graded tracks established between farmland and bush. “Overnight, our crews finished dozing and reinforcing containment linesaround a fire at Splitters Range east of Omeo. This is critical in protectingSwifts Creek,” Mr Waller said. “Omeo will come under pressure again today, as there is still unburnedcountry around the town”. CFA resources in the townships of Swifts Creek and Ensay will be boosted today,and a reserve CFA strike team will be available to be deployed from Bairnsdale. “Firefighting on this scale is an enormous logistical exercise. The overalltask has been complemented by the commitment of landholders to protect their ownproperties. CFA and DSE/DPI are indebted to groups like the Red Cross, and StJohn’s Ambulance who are caring for our communities. We have also been supportedby many small and large businesses across Gippsland which are feeding andaccommodating our people, and supplying machinery, equipment andoperators.” “It continues to be a magnificent whole-community effort, but there arestill very difficult times ahead of us.” For more information about the fire situation and how itmight affect you and to report stock losses, please call the Gippsland CommunityFire Information line on 1800 668 066.
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.”
The fire is still within the established contol lines and thearea is estimated at 12500Ha. Today’s difficult conditions produced severalflare-ups which were quickly controlled using pre-assigned crews. Fire crewswill work tonight and tomorrow to reinforce boundaries and control the fire.
The fire is still going but is remaining within thecontainment boundaries. Estimated area is 2000Ha. Parks & Wildlife Servicecrews are patrolling the fire and working to extinguish hot spots in peat soilsand on the forest edges.
Despite difficult conditions fire crews were able to keep thefire within the established control lines. The estimated area remains about 2500Ha and fire crews will be working to control the fire overnight and tomorrow. Nofurther property losses have occurred.
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.
Queensland Firefighters leave forVictoria this afternoon Posted: 29 Jan 2003
Two groups of frontline firefighters will leave Brisbane this afternoon as partof the Queensland taskforce heading to Victoria to assist exhausted interstatecolleagues battle fires that are burning across the state. 35 urban and rural firefighters, two communications staff, two radio techniciansand two mechanics will depart Brisbane on Virgin Airlines flight DJ228 at 12pmtoday. A further 14 firefighters will leave on Virgin Airlines flight DJ232 at 1pm. The combined group of 49 taskforce members will then take a charter flight fromMelbourne to East Sale, where Victorias Country Fire Authority (CFA) willtransport them to operational areas. Crews will be farewelled by Acting Fire Commissioner Frank Pagano and Ministerfor Emergency Services, Mike Reynolds. Twelve rural firefighters and an advance forward control party of seven alsoleft Brisbane this morning for Victoria. The firefighters and six members of the advance party will fly into Bairnsdale,the CFA base in the region, where they will be briefed and from there flown intothe town of Sale. One member of the control party will stay in Melbourne to represent Queenslandin the Interstate Liaison Unit. The five urban trucks, five rural trucks and seven support vehicles that wereused in Canberra have been freighted to East Gippsland, and are ready for use onarrival of the Queensland taskforce. For Media: Contact: Sarah McCormack, QFRS Media on 3247 8084 or 0416 167 421
GFMC Note 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.