GFMC: Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

31 January 2003


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

 

 

Firefighters in southeast Australia got a small break over theweekend of  25 January 2003, as cool, damp weather gave an opportunity forfire control lines to be established around many threatened communities.Conditions are expected to become dangerous by mid-week, with temperatures over100 degrees Fahrenheit and gusty winds. So far the blazes in Victoria and NewSouth Wales have scorched more than 1 million acres. This true-color ModerateResolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image from the Aquasatellite on January 28, 2003, shows the fires marked in red.


Source:NASA/ EO

 

 

Heat signatures (red), burn scars(charcoal), and thick smoke (light blue haze) are visible from fires burning out ofcontrol in  southeastern  Australia  in this ModerateResolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image  from 28  January 2003, captured by theAqua satellite. 

Source: OSEI/NOAA

 

 

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):

  • 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: https://gfmc.online/emergency/radarsat.htm

RADARSATcontact:
CSARADARSAT-1 Disaster Watch
c/o: SatelliteOperations
CanadianSpace Agency
e-mail: dwreports@space.gc.ca

 

 

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 Australia 

  • NSW:  Change in weather helps fire crews
  • Victoria: Authorities are trying to develop an accurate picture of the total damage 
  • Queensland: New fire bans in State’s South-East

 

Australian fires continue to flare
Thursday, 30 January, 2003, 13:37GMT

Australian firefighters have endured one of their most difficult days sincehot weather and drought triggered bush fires in the country’s south east. Firesforced the evacuation of up to a dozen villages in the Snowy Mountains in NewSouth Wales. In the federal capital Canberra, the cost of the 18 January fireswhich destroyed 530 homes has been raised to A$250m ($150m), making it thecountry’s second-worst bush fire disaster. With temperatures around Canberrareaching 40 degrees Celsius and the wind strong and gusting, fire authoritiessaid outlying settlements again faced extreme danger. Police in Canberra chargeda 16-year-old boy with lighting bush fires, the third person to be charged witharson since the city was hit.

The bushfire in Victoria was so intense that it was creating its own weathersystem, local firefighters said. “It has its own convection current. Theferocity… is creating lightning over the northern and south-easternflanks,” said Lyndel Hunter of the Victoria Country Fire Authority. Fourbuildings, at least two of which were homes, were destroyed in Omeo, a goldmining town 400 kilometres (250 miles) northeast of Melbourne. More than 3,600livestock were killed in the blaze. “It was hot, windy, smoky and veryscary,” Omeo resident Judy Smith told Associated Press news agency.”It’s been like a war zone,” she said. The fire was reported to bemoving towards the nearby town of Mitta Mitta. Three more homes were lost in afire on the outskirts of Sydney which closed down the main southern route intothe city for two hours.

Dozens of other fires are burning between Canberra to the Gippsland region inVictoria state – an area stretching 300 kilometres (185 miles). “This isone of the worst days we’ve had since the fires began,” said Kevin Monks, aspokesman for Victoria’s Department of Sustainability and Environment.

Further north, New South Wales fire chief, Phil Koperberg, said that firesburning through mountain forests were approaching the regional centre ofJindabyne from three sides, and up to a dozen villages have been evacuated.

Source: BBC


NEW SOUTH WALES:

Change in weatherhelps fire crews
Fri, Jan 31 2003 6:17 PM AEDT

Calmer conditions in New South Waleshave helped firefighters contain blazes in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney,and the Snowy Mountains. With virtually no wind in the Blue Mountains today,firefighters have used water bombing to bring a blaze at south Katoomba undercontrol. But a wind change is predicted for the afternoon and residents ofValley Road and Pulpit Hill are still being advised to prepare their properties.In the Snowy Mountains the threat has eased from a fire that spotted intohigh farming country yesterday and prompted hundreds of people to flee theirhomes in areas south of Jindabyne. There are still many fires out of control inKosciuszko National Park and a close watch is being kept on big fires burning upfrom the Victorian border.

Source:
ABC news


Total Fire Ban  for  0
1February 2003

The Commissioner of the NSW RuralFire Service has declared a Total Fire Ban in the following Weather ForecastDistricts:

Central Western Plains, Central West Slopes

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,Friday, January 31, 2003 until MIDNIGHT Saturday, 1 February 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 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  Friday, 31 January 2003

 The skills of NSW’s firefighters were proven yesterday with no majorproperty losses reported despite atrocious fire weather which included 40 degreeheat and winds gusting around 80kph.
Assessments of property loss continue in the Jindabyne area, however, noconfirmed losses have been recorded so far.
Extreme fire danger weather caused fires in NSW’s southeast to breakcontainment lines and threaten communities and new outbreaks in the BlueMountains and Gosford to concern homes also.
Those threats have eased today with milder temperatures and lighter windconditions being experienced across most firegrounds.

Kosciuszko National Park
The fire ran 40km east of Jindabyne under yesterday’s severe conditions andthreatened several areas of the town, causing voluntary evacuations.
Fire authorities continue to assess damage today, however, not home losses arereported as yet. Conditions are calm and are expected to continue for the nextfour or five days, giving firefighters welcome respite and an opportunity towork on containment lines.
There is still an extensive area of uncontained fire in the area and while thethreat to homes has eased for the moment the firefighting campaign will continueto be conducted in the area for some time.
Firefighters threw all resources at fires closing on communities in the worstaffected areas, especially in the Alpine Way, Barry Way and Paupong areas.
Extremely strong winds, low humidity and high temperatures caused numerous spotfires right across the fire front.

ACT – Yarrowlumla
Increased fire activity saw breaches of containemt lines in many sectors of theYarrowlumla fireground. Light rain oon the ifreground last night and mildconditions today are assisting firefighting operations.
The northeast sector of the McIntyres Hut fire broke out into grassland but isnow contained. A spotfire fron the northeast sector is now contained.
In the southeast sector of the fire, spotfires have occurred over the MonaroHighway, however, the spotfires east of the highway and west of Michelago havebeen contained. Crews worked on directly attacking the fire overnight. Directattack strategies are taking place around Michelago.

Yass
The fire burning in the Black Andrew Nature Reserve broke its containment lineyesterday and ran to the southwest. Crews worked on property protection and thefire was held on the ridge west of Wee Jasper. Todays crews will continueproperty protection for properties on the north and west of Wee Jasper andcontainment strategies on the southeastern side of the fire.
No houses were lost and a private pine plantation to northwest has beenpartially damaged.

Blue Mountains
The fire threat to properties in North Katoomba has eased with milder conditionsthis morning. The fire started west of the Explorers Tree and entered the NorthKatoomba catchment area, causing spotting in North Katoomba streets, and hasburned 250ha.
Concerns were held for property in Mort St, North St and Whetton Rd. Selfevacuees were gathering at the Civic Centre in Katoomba last night. There are noconfirmed property losses. This section of the fire was contained with abackburn put in place overnight from Mort St to the dam. This saved the powerand water supply to the Katoomba area.
Backburning was also conducted at Foy and Delamont Streets Medlow Bath andPulpit Hill.
The Great Western Highway and railway line will be closed until at least 9am.
Aerial reconnaissance and infrared scanning this morning will identify if thefire has moved into the Megalong and Jamison Valleys.

Woy Woy
A fire began around Nagari Rd Woy Woy South, moved south towards the Woy WoyWaste Disposal Depot yesterday afternoon and is currently active on a ridgeabove Timbertop Dr. No properties are directly affected.
The fire moved approximately 1 km south overnight along the main ridge systemwest of Umina Heights. Today crews have finished constructing a handtool linelinking Van Dahls Firetrail and the Old Sanitary Depot and another between TheSantuary to Timbertop Dr. A dozer is currently working on a fallback linebetween Van Dahls Firetrain and the Sanitary Depot and a backburn is now beingput in place along this line to protect the southwestern corner of the fire.Waterbombing is being undertaken in the southern section to enable crews tocomplete a backburn and is also being undertaken on the western flank to preventspotting to the west of the Tip sector.
About 100 firefighters from RFS, NSW Fire Brigade and NPWS are working in thearea.

Kyogle
Volunteer fire fighters, along with National Parks and Wildlife Service,continue their battle to establish containment lines around a fire burningthrough the Border Ranges National Park.
The fire has now burnt out approximately 700 hectares of World Heritage listedNational Park, to the North West of Kyogle in the Saw Pitt creek area.
At present the fire is burning through very inaccessible terrain, howeverfingers of the main fire are slowly making their way down into private propertyand open country where containment lines can be established.
Meantime, a fire, which has been burning in the Richmond Range area, nearToonumbar, remains contained, with fire crews continuing to patrol and mop upthe fire perimeter.
Weather over coming days is forecast to be still warm and dry is hopedfire-fighting crews will be able to gain the upper hand on the fire and initiatecontainment lines where possible.
Inspector Matt Inwood said “Fire fighters certainly have a battle on theirhands containing this fire, as it is burning in mountainous terrain, surroundedby escarpments.”
“There is no property is under direct threat, however the fire is making itsway into grazing country on private land.”
“With dry weather still predicted over coming weeks, land owners and occupiersacross the north coast are being urged to ensure their properties are kept tidyand fire safe.”

Evans Head
A fire which began on the Broadwater Evans Head Rd and is burning in theBroadwater National Park is not currently threatening homes.
Containment lines immediately north east of Evans Head were being establishedwith backburning, however, damp conditions this morning were hampering progress.
The fire was first reported at 9.45pm last night. Northerly winds are blanketingEvans Head in smoke, however, fire activity is generally calmer this morning.
Forty firefighters from the RFS and NPWS in 10 tankers are working on the fire.

Harden
A fire destroyed about 50ha of mature grapes and stone fruit trees at a vineyard12km northwest of Harden yesterday.
The fire was contained by over 60 firefighters in 18 RFS tankers, 15 NSW FireBrigades tankers and bulldozers and graders. They were supported by council bulkwater tanker and one fixed wing aircraft.
The fire burned between 1500 and 2000ha and was fanned by winds in excess of60kph in 44 degree heat.
Crews battled to protect property throughout the afternoon and are blacking outand felling dangerous trees in the area today.
Losses include a picker’s hut, a dwelling on the eastern side of the property,about 100 sheep, 50km of fencing, vineyard trellis and irrigation systems, andrailway infrastructure.

Waterfall Derailment
Local RFS cres assisted at the Waterfall deraiment site to transport casualtiesto the triage post. All casualties have now been removed from the site of theincident.

For more information (Please note thisis for MEDIA INQUIRIES ONLY): DutyMedia Officer 02 9898 1855

Websites: www.npws.nsw.gov.au    or      www.rfs.nsw.gov.au

Weather: Bureau of meteorologywebsite with educational material about bushfires which may be useful for themedia for background material: www.bom.gov.au/inside/services_policy/fireag/bushfire/bushfire.htm

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

Source: NSW Rural FireService 

 

.

VICTORIA:

Victoria overview
Fri, Jan 31 2003 6:17 PM AEDT

Authorities are trying to develop an accurate picture of the total damage causedby recent weeks’ fires in Victoria. The State Emergency Recovery PlanningCommittee has met to discuss its response to the devastating fires in theGippsland and north-east. About 100 people have been granted emergency financialrelief and many others are receiving counselling after being caught in a fire ortraumatised by the threat. Committee chairwoman Penny Armytage says it will besome time before a figure can be put on the amount of fire damage and the costof the recovery. “Because this is an ongoing emergency, it’s still one thatwe’re dealing with now, information is still forthcoming about property andother losses, and communities are still experiencing the trauma and grief ofthis current situation,” he said. “We haven’t made an estimate …that it is something that is evolving as we get a stronger picture of what’shappening.” The Elvis skycrane is being used to water bomb a fire burningnear Gelantipy in Victoria’s eastern alpine country. Twenty firefighters from USare also helping to battle the blaze. Elsewhere fire crews across the north-easthave been scaled down as the bushfire crisis eases. Rainfall of up to 20millimetres overnight has lessened the threat of fire to most communities althoughresidents remain vigilant. Calm weather today has let firefighters strengthencontainment lines and backburn. 

Paul Mansfield from the Bright fire brigade says there is no real threat to thearea anymore.

Source: ABC news

Statewide Update 31 January 2003

Gippsland Fires Update 31 Jan 2:30pm
Information for the local community and visitors to Gippsland and theNorth-East about going fires and the control measures being used in Gippsland.
The Bogong Complex fires have joined the Pinnabar fire to the northeast and theMt Buffalo fire to the west. The combined fire has now burned more than 400,000hectares.
Yesterday’s extreme conditions caused spot fires to spread well ahead of themain fire fronts, causing problems in areas around Gelantipy, Wulgulmerang andSuggan Buggan.
Homes were lost in Omeo and Seldom Seen, while stock and other losses are stillbeing assessed in many areas.
Fires are now burning on both sides of the Snowy River at McKillop’s Bridge,Mount McKay and in a logging coupe near Bendoc.
Fires are burning in the Alpine National Park west of Wulgulmerang and north ofSuggan Buggan.
Clearer skies this morning are making life easier for assessments of the currentfire situation to be made.
The next step is to try to determine which outbreaks are the most urgent andattempt to contain any further spread.
The cool change which arrived yesterday brought welcome rain to many parts ofGippsland, with cooler conditions forecast for at least the next few days beforethe weather heats up again mid next week.
While the rain won’t extinguish the fires, it should give firefighters a chanceto consolidate control lines. But the first priority is to assess the currentstate of the fires from the ground and the air.
Among the resources now allocated to the Gippsland fires is an EricssonAircrane, which is being used today to tackle fires in the Gelantipy area.

How will it affect you?
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.
It should also be remembered that communications can be disrupted infire-affected areas. This means people in more isolated areas may not be able tobe individually contacted in the event of a serious outbreak.
This makes planning ahead all the more important for your safety and that ofyour livestock and other assets.
The Omeo Oval remains the designated refuge area for residents in the Omeo andBenambra areas. For residents in the Swifts Creek and Cassilis area, the SwiftsCreek Secondary 

College is your
designated refuge area and for Ensay residents, the Ensay Hall or Bruthen Hallif preferred. 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 the event will be difficult as roads may beunsafe.
Residents are urged to call the Gippsland Community Fire Information line on1800 668 066 to report stock losses and to get help with the care or humanedestruction of injured stock.
DPI Vets and Animal Health Officers 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 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.

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
Dargo Road just north of Dargo
Lower Dargo Road
No public access to Bogong High Plains, Bogong Village, Mount Hotham Village andFalls Creek

Safety Messages
Stay tuned at home and in your car to local stations (ABC Regional Radio on100.7 FM or 720 on AM band, 3HCR, High Country Radio on 97.3, 3TR on 99.9FM,Cooma 2XL on 92.1FM, ABC Bega on 810AM)
…and keep listening for fire location information, spread of fires and weatherconditions to monitor your local situation so you have an up to date snapshot ofwhat is happening.

Community Meetings:
Friday 31 January: Newmerella Recreation Reserve, 7.00pm
Friday 31 January: Clifton Creek Community Hall, 7.30pm
Friday 31 January: Bullamwaal Hall, 7.30pm
Sunday 2 February: Mount Taylor Hall, 7.30pm

Futher assistance
Telephone Help
Telstra Country Wide is offering free call diversion for people affected by thebushfires.
This allows you to receive all calls to your home phone to another phone, eitherfixed or mobile.
If you have suffered loss of property and no longer have access to your usualphone service, please call 1300 134 239.
For other enquiries, call Telstra Country Wide on 1800 687 829.
Counselling and Support Services
Family & Personal Counselling support (based in Bairnsdale) can also beaccessed through our fire information line, 1800 668 066

Mt Buffalo and Bogong West Fire Update 31 Jan 2:30pm
Information for the local community about Mt. Buffalo and Bogong Westcomplex fire, and measures implemented to control these fires.Yesterday’srainfall across the fire area has had a significant impact on the firesituation. Between 1mm and 5mm, and up to 20mm of rain fell across some of thehigher areas of the region, with the biggest falls high in the mountains (24mmat Mt Hotham). Although the rain has greatly helped to reduce the fire risk, itwas not enough to fully extinguish the fire. It will also interrupt some of thebackburning operations planned for today. Subsequently, DS&E and CFAresources will concentrate on direct attack as close to the fire edge as theycan today. Some fire crews worked shorter shifts last night and took awell-earned rest as calm, clear conditions prevail over the fire area. Residentsin the vicinity of all fires are reminded to remain vigilant over the nextcouple of days, although the rain and calmer weather conditions have reduced thefire threat for all communities in the area. Mild weather conditions, followingyesterday afternoon’s late change, have allowed fire crews to rest and preparefor more work today to consolidate works.

Road Closures:
People are urged not to drive on any roads in the vicinity of the fires unlessabsolutely necessary.

Mt Buffalo Road at Porepunkah Ranger’s Station
Buckland Valley Road at Porepunkah
Bogong High Plains Road is closed at Mt Beauty and there is no public access toBogong Village, Falls Creek and the Bogong High Plains (may be opened by lateThursday)
Omeo Highway between Omeo and Mitta Mitta
Great Alpine Road between Harrietville and Omeo with no public access to the MtHotham Village
Buffalo River Road south of Merriang South
Dandongadale Road from Dandongadale to Lake Buffalo
Simmonds Creek Road at the end of private property (Open to residents only)
Tawonga Gap Track, east of Tawonga Gap
Bakers Gully Road from the end of the sealed road
Wandiligong Road south of Wandiligong
Lake Buffalo Road (across the lake) is now closed. An emergency vehicle onlyaccess track to Long Corner Creek Road is available for Fire traffic includingTankers and 4WDs
The cross over at the Buffalo Dam Wall is currently under traffic managementcontrol. There is a by-pass track. Public are advised to observe speed limitsand traffic management controls.

Track closures:
Selwyn Track, Tea Tree Range Track, West Buffalo Track, Wonnagatta Valley Track,Zeeka Spur Track, Wombat Spur Track, Riley’s Creek Track, Australian AlpsWalking Track NE of Mt Howitt

For updates contact the Victoria Police Information Line on 1800 444 343

Messages for Communities:
Driving in hazardous conditions
Many ‘near misses’ have been reported so please remember that you and otherdrivers may be experiencing poor visibility from smoke, exhaustion, distractionsand oncoming Emergency vehicles.

Make sure you wear your seat belt at all times, obey the speed limit and watchout for emergency vehicles. Remember you and other drivers are probably tired sodrive with exceptional care.

If you have made the decision to stay and protect your home stick to that plan.A late evacuation is a deadly option.

If caught on the road:
Always U turn to safety if you have the option but if you are caught on the roadyour car offers the best protection from radiant heat as the fire front passes
Do not get out and run!
Pull to the side of the road into a clear area – dirt track or road is best
Try not to park the car in a place where it is surrounded by fuel for the fire
Put the hazard lights and headlights on and keep the engine running
Cover exposed skin as much as possible with clothing (not synthetic)
Ensure windows are up and vents closed
Get down as low as possible below window level as radiant heat travels throughglass.
Cover up with a woollen blanket until the fire front passes. (If travelling inthe country always carry woollen blankets in your car for this purpose)
You will feel a reduction in the heat and then it is time to get out a move tosafety.

Further information and resources:
Victoria Police Information hotline (road closures) 1800 444 343
Parks Victoria Hotline 13 19 63
CFA Community Hotline 1800 240 667
Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) website
DSECommunity Updates – available for Upper Murray, Ovens and Kiewa Valley,Gippsland, Beechworth and Bogong fires. Detailed reports, produced daily.
NSW RuralFire Service website
…and stay tuned to your local radio stations: ABC radio FM 106.5, 91.7 or89.7, EDGE FM /3NE radio, Mt Beauty & Myrtleford FM 90.1, Mt Hotham FM 89.3,
Buffalo FM 99.1

Alpine Fires Update 31 Jan 11:00am
Cool change allows alpine region to assess yesterday’s damage. Severeforecast weather predicted yesterday saw winds in the higher altitudes in theAlpine area exceeding 90kph a little after 3 am. Wind speeds across the firearea strengthened during the morning and temperatures rose. By early afternoonnumerous communities in the area were under significant threat. They included MtHotham, Omeo and Benambra in the south, and Mitta Mitta, Eskdale andHarrietville in the north. The work of fire crews and local residents sawproperty damage kept to a minimum. The CFA has confirmed that in Omeo, fourhouses and an outbuilding at the Omeo Police Station have been burnt.Significant stock losses may be reported this morning. For further informationon damage to private property and assets, please phone the CFA on 13 15 99 or1800 240 667. The expected southwesterly change arrived late yesterday andbrought rain in some Alpine areas, and lower temperatures are expected todayacross the fire area. Some lightning was reported late yesterday with thechange, and possible new fires some 70km from the main fire around Gelantipy,Wulgulmerang and in the Snowy River National Park will be assessed from the airtoday. Crews reached a new fire near Tubbut late last night. To date, the Alpinefires have now burnt more than 515,000 hectares of parks and forests.

Current Going Fires
The main Pinnibar/Bogong fire is still burning strongly despite the cool change.Fire behaviour today is expected to be milder today, although Alpine communitiesare urged to stay alert. Fire crews will continue to contain spot fires if theyoccur and continue. This fire has now burnt over 428,000ha.
The Mt Buffalo fire also caused significant problems. It has now reached pineplantations to the west of Bright where this edge was contained late yesterday.It has also spread to the south of Bright. This fire has now burnt over 62,000ha.

Weather in the Alpine area
Today: Patchy rain clearing in the morning to become afine and generally mild day with temperatures in the mid to high 20s. Winds SW35-40kph.
Weekend: Isolated afternoon showers and possiblethunderstorms, with temperatures becoming warmer.

Threats to private property
For currently confirmed property losses please call CFA on 13 15 99.
See description of individual fires for current threats to private property. Forinformation on significant fires on private land in rural Victoria, please callthe CFA on 13 15 99 or 1800 240 667.

For information on Gippsland fires, and post fire assistance, please call theTraralgon Information Line on 1800 668 066 (6am – midnight).

Alpine Shires are maintaining community information phone lines.

Community Information
Community meetings scheduled for today:
Club Terrace (Old School) 10:00am
Newmeralla (Recreation Reserve) 7:00pm
Walwa (Walwa Hall) 5:30pm

Saturday 1 Feb 2003
Granya (Granya Hall) 11:00am

The meetings are designed to assist local residents and visitors to the areawith the current fire situation, and to put in place on-going communitynetworks. Further community meetings will occur as necessary and will be advisedlocally.

Further information and resources
Information hotlines for residents in the Towong Shire (02) 6071 5100 and theAlpine Shire 5755 0524
Victoria Police Information hotline (road closures) 1800 444 343
Parks Victoria Hotline 13 19 63
CFA Community Hotline 1800 240 667
Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) website
DSECommunity Updates – available for Upper Murray, Ovens and Kiewa Valley,Gippsland, Beechworth and Bogong fires. Detailed reports, produced daily.
NSW RuralFire Service website
…and stay tuned to your local radio station.


Latest Fire Maps 31 Jan 9am

North East Fire Maps . 

Overview Map- (jpeg approx 200kb)
Closerview of North East Fires – (jpeg approx 200kb)
Hiresolution PDF file of Fires (can zoom in on this map) – LargeDownload* (pdf size from 2 to 3Mb)

Further Information:
CSIRO also provide online mapping of the fires situation at http://www.sentinel.csiro.au
Note – this map is hosted on the Land Victoria website.

Alpine Communities Remain on High Alert 30 Jan6:00am
CFA has declared a Total Fire Ban for theGippsland and North East Fire Ban areas. 

CURRENT SUMMARY
Today’s weather in the Alpine Region is expected to severely test firefightingefforts. Fire danger will be extreme in the North East district. A wind warningfor elevated land areas has been issued and fire behaviour is predicted to beextreme and at times erratic. Since 3am this morning northerly wind speeds inthe higher areas have increased from 20kph to around 90kph.
Yesterday a delegation of 21 firefighters from the United States arrived inMelbourne to assist with firefighting efforts in Victoria. These high countryand forest fire specialists are from the five major federal land managementagencies in the USA. This is the first strike team of its type to fight fires inAustralia. Today they will remain in Melbourne for familiarisation training onVictorian vegetation, fire behaviour and an update on the current firesituation. They will then join 33 New Zealand firefighters who have beenassisting for several days, together with 428 Interstate and 120 Army personnel.
To date, the Alpine fires have now burnt more than 465,000 hectares of parks andforests.

CURRENT GOING FIRES
Due to their merging earlier this week, the Bogong and Pinnibar fires are nowbeing treated as one fire complex which stretches from the NSW border, over 90kmto Harrietville. These fires have now burnt nearly 400,000 hectares of park andforest.
The fire in the Mt Buffalo National Park has burnt in excess of 35,000 hectares.
Areas of particular concern include the Tallangatta Valley, Mitta Mitta, NarielValley, Eskdale, Wandiligong, Harrietville, Bright and surrounding areas as wellas the Mt Hotham region, Omeo and Benambra, although all communities areencouraged to stay alert. Yesterday and during the night fire crews focussed onasset protection works, containing spot overs and preparing for today’s extremeweather.

COMMUNITY INFORMATION
During the last three weeks, a number of community meetings have been held. Morethan 4,000 people have now attended these.
Community meetings are scheduled for today in:
Goongerah (Goongerah Hall) at 11:00am
Nungurner (Nungurner Hall) at 7:00pm
Orbost (Orbost Football Ground)at 4:00pm
Meetings are scheduled for Friday in Club Terrace (Old School) at 10am. Themeetings are designed to assist local residents and visitors to the area withthe current fire situation, and to put in place on-going community networks.
Further community meetings will occur as necessary and will be advised locally.
Liaison between local shires/DSE/DPI/CFA/PV and Victoria Police continues on aregular basis, as does liaison with NSW fire agencies.
Local Community Updates continue to be circulated on a regular basis.

The DSE website is being regularlyupdated with fire information, including community newsletters and maps.

THREATS TO PRIVATE PROPERTY AND ROAD CLOSURES
For currently confirmed property losses please call CFA on 13 15 99.
See description of individual fires for current threats to private property. Forinformation on significant fires on private land in rural Victoria, please callCFA on 13 15 99 or 1800 240 667.
For information regarding public road closures, please call the Victoria PoliceEmergency Information Line on 1800 444 343.
For information on Gippsland fires, and on post fire assistance, please call theTraralgon Information Line on 1800 668 066 (6am – midnight).
Alpine Shires are maintaining community information phone lines

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

Websites

Department of Sustainability and Environment
 for more detailed information
Community Updates
on the DS&E website are alsoavailable

Actual Fire Situation Maps,Victoria
An actual fire situation map can be found directly at:
http://www.nre.vic.gov.au/fires/updates/report/index.htm 

Source: http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/  

TASMANIA:

TWELVETREES RANGE, STRATHGORDON – SITUATION UPDATE
11:45:07 AM 31 January, 2003

Heavy rain yesterday has stopped the fire running but was notenough to extinguish the peat fires. The IMT has temporarily closed down andcrews returned to base as the fire is stationary. Fire is being monitored by MtField Parks and Wildlife Service.

 

BROADMARSH / BRIGHTON / MAGRA – SITUATION UPDATE
11:13:43 AM 31 January, 2003

The Incident Management Team has closed down with the incidenthas been handed over to the Hobart and Midlands Districts to monitor. Crews willpatrol the area. This fire has been contained.

 

WHITEMARK, FLINDERS ISLAND – SITUATION UPDATE
11:12:27 AM 31 January, 2003

Fire contained within constructed boundaries and is beingpatrolled by local brigades.

 

SADDLEBACK PLANTATION, MATHINNA – SITUATION UPDATE
11:11:31 AM 31 January, 2003

Fire has been handed back to local control. 2 personnel and amedium tanker are patrolling the area.

 

HYLANDS RD, MURDUNNA – SITUATION UPDATE
11:10:43 AM 31 January, 2003

Fire is contained and has been handed back to local brigadesand Parks & Wildlife to patrol.

 

WHITES FLAT, LAKE CRESCENT – SITUATION UPDATE
11:10:11 AM 31 January, 2003

One area is still burning and will be monitored for a fewdays. Fire crews will be arriving this morning to black out and patrol the area.The Remote Area Team will be working on extinguishing a peat fire in the areathis afternoon.


Source:
Tasmania Fire Service (TFS)

QUEENSLAND

New fire bans in State’sSouth-East
31 January 2003

RECORD low rainfall in January and expected high fire danger in the coming days,has prompted the introduction of local fire bans for the State’s south-eastarea. (Local fire ban information below).From midnight, bans will be in placefor the local government areas of Brisbane City, Redland, Pine Rivers,Caboolture, Caloundra, Maroochy and Noosa. Already fire bans are in force forthe areas of Beaudesert, Boonah, Esk, Gatton, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Laidley,Logan, Cooloola, Hervey Bay, Kilcoy, Kilkivan, Kingaroy, Maryborough, Murgon,Nanango, Tiaro, Wondai and Woocoo. Most areas of the State’s south-east arebetween 500mm and a metre below average rainfall and some areas receivedvirtually no rain in January – traditionally one of the wettest months of theyear. Queensland Fire and Rescue Service Commissioner Lee Johnson today urgedall residents in ‘at risk’ areas to take precautions. “The fire risk situationis unusual for this time of the year and the gale force winds and highertemperatures predicted for the days ahead do not augur well for firefighters,”he said. “Usually January-February are among our quieter months for grass andbushfires, but not so this year.” Mr Johnson also urged anyone seeing anyoneacting suspiciously around bush and grassland areas to take particular attentionand report this to police if any fires do start. Already this financial yearQueensland firefighters have responded to more than 10,000 grass and bushfiresin the first seven months of the financial year. Up until the close of businessyesterday (January 30), fire crews had responded to 10,895 grass and bushfiressince July 1. 

The Local Fire Bans prohibit the lighting of all fires, with the followingexceptions:

1. Fires within a properly constructed barbecue are permitted, provided they arenot left unattended. (Gas and electric barbecues may be used).
2. Fires for the purpose of disposal of animal carcasses are permitted, subjectto the issue of a Permit to Light Fire by the local Fire Warden.
3. Fires of commercial necessity are permitted subject to the issue of a Permitto Light Fire by the Rural Fire Service District Inspector.
4. Fires lit for the purpose of burning standing sugar cane for harvest inaccordance with the established practice of the industry.
5. Fires lit for the purpose of burning sugar cane tops and harvesting trashbetween the hours of 1800 (6.00pm) and 0900 (9.00am).

Anyone wanting more information about fire risk, permits or general bushfiresafety should contact their local rural brigade or fire station or visit eitherthe Rural Fire Service website at www.ruralfire.qld.gov.au or the QFRS websiteat www.fire.qld.gov.au
For Media: Contact: Sarah McCormack, QFRS Media on 3247 8084 or 0416 167 421

Source: Qld -fire-service

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.

Currentweather situation, forecasts, fireweather http://www.bom.gov.au/weather/tas/ 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

Australia´s fire seasons


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