GFMC: Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

03 February 2003


BushfiresRaging in Southeast Australia

Pixel Size 2 km
(0,7 Mb) Pixel Size 250m (8,1 Mb)

This true-color ModerateResolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) images from the Aqua satellite on February 02,2003, shows the fires in southeastern Australia marked with red dots.

Latest satellite images: BushfiresRaging in Southeast Australia

31 January 2003

1 February 2003

Fragmentsof the BIRD 3.8µm channel image showing  the area of Canberra obtained on 31January and 1 February.
Source: German Aerospace Center. BIRD website: http://spacesensors.dlr.de/SE/bird/index.html
The left-hand box contains two radiative temperature scales: a) a grey levelscale for pixel averaged background temperatures and b) a coloured scale forpixel averaged temperatures which are higher than the background temperaturesand are indicating hot spots.

Mapshowing the center part of the BIRD satellite scenes above.

The NOAA/NESDIS Experimental Fire Potential Product
This product is based on the estimated intensity and duration of vegetation stress which can be used as a proxy for assessment of fire potential and danger. It combines two satellite-based indices – the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and thermal data from the NOAA AVHRR sensors. Area, intensity, and duration of vegetation stress, fire potential and danger can be estimated from colour-coded maps covering all continents. An introduction to the weekly updated products are accessible at: http://orbit-net.nesdis.noaa.gov/crad/sat/surf/fpm/index.html.

click to enlarge (140 KB)

Latest weekly global fire potential product map, including Australia
(upper scene)
and comparison with the situation in the previous month (map below)
(Source: NOAA/NESDIS Experimental Fire Potential Product, prepared by Felix Kogan, Robert M.Carey and David Forsyth.)

This false-color image shows the resulting concentrations of carbon monoxide (CO) at an altitude of roughly 3 km (700 millibars) in the atmosphere over Australia and New Zealand. Data taken by the Measurements Of Pollution In The Troposphere (MOPITT) instrument aboard NASA’s Terra satellite have been combined for 6 days from January 15-20, 2003. The colors represent the mixing ratios of carbon monoxide in the air, given in parts per billion by volume. In this scene, values range from as high as 250 ppbv (purple pixels) to as low as 50 ppbv (blue pixels). The white areas show where no data were collected, either due to persistent cloud cover or gaps between satellite viewing swaths.

Carbon monoxide is produced as a result of incomplete combustion during burning processes, and is important due to its impact on chemistry in the lower atmosphere. It is a good indicator of atmospheric pollution, and its presence adversely affects the atmosphere’s ability to cleanse itself. Because carbon monoxide is persistent for several weeks, it clearly shows the propagation of pollution plumes from the region of the Australian fires out thousands of kilometers into the usually pristine atmosphere of the southern Pacific Ocean. The distribution of pollution over Australia corresponds closely with satellite observed aerosol emitted by the fires as observed by TOMS.

This false-color map of theworld  shows an aerosol index produced from data collected by the Total ozone Mapping Spectrometer (TOMS) on30  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)

NEW SOUTH WALES:

Kosciuszko National Park Monday, 3 February 2003 – Overview

An extended period of milder weather conditions and NE winds until at least midday Thursday will permit fire fighters to consolidate slight gains made against fires east and south-east of Jindabyne and in the far south Jerry’s Flat/Byadbo area to the west of Delegate.

However unsettled conditions and possible thunderstorms forecast for Thursday evening could increase wind conditions and raise the fire threat due to spotfires and lightning strikes.The major focus today continued to be the Avonside Road and large blazes in the Paupong/Numbla Vale areas south-east of Jindabyne. Kalkite Mountain to the north the Jerry’s Flat/Byadbo area near the Victorian border was also very active.

Communities have again been urged to remain vigilant. Homeowners should take all precautions and reduce fuels and flammable material around their houses. The situation to the south of the former “Slaughterhouse” fire area and Jerry’s Flat near the Victorian border remains a major priority with potential to eventually join with extensive Victorian blazes.

Avonside Road
Crews fought to control a flare-up south of the Snowy River in the Avonside Rd area, but otherwise backburning and construction of containment lines continued. Additional fire crews will maintain efforts overnight to protect properties. Residents are urged to be alert and vigilant.

Moonbah, Ingebyra and Paupong areas
Water bombing at Ingebyra and Paupong coincided with extensive backburning along a 35km perimeter as crews fought to control blazes between Paupong and Numbla Vale where approx. 15,000ha have been burnt in recent days.
Fires along the Barry Way in the Ingebyra and Moonbah areas remain contained.

Alpine Way and Wollondibby areas
Fire activity along the Alpine Way was kept in check by ground crews and remains largely stable. At Penderlea fire activity has been held in check.

Thredbo
The fire situation in Thredbo has subsided. Patrols continue. Property protection remains a priority at Guthega and Crackenback Range.

Perisher, Guthega, Smiggins
Resort areas remained calm. Patrols continue.

Kalkite Mountain
Bulldozer work continued to work to try and contain an outbreak at Kalkite Mountain, west of the Eucumbene River.

Snowy Plains and Adaminaby area
Fire activity eased in the Snowy Plains area but is being closely monitored.

North Kosciuszko Overview
Fires in the north end of the park remain largely contained. Fires in the Michelago, Yaouk Valley and west of the Snowy Mountains Highway between Talbingo and Kiandra are contained.

Michelago
Crews are patrolling and mopping up. Five aircraft dropped retardant west of the Murrumbidgee River.

Yarrangobilly complex
Fire fighters will patrol and consolidate containment line work along the Upper Murray and Maragle Power Lines today. The situation remains under control.

Yaouk Valley
Containment lines are holding and secure. Broken Cart and Wyora fires remain within containment lines.

Bombala and Delegate areas
Backburning to create a protective perimeter between fire activity in the Byadbo area in Kosciuszko National Park, and Corrowong 15km to the east continued. Backburning has continued off the Tingaringy Fire Trail and Karachi Fire Trail and work will continue to protect private property and pine plantations. Incendiary drops will be undetaken tomorrow to extend containment lines.

Victorian fires
A forward control centre has been established at Bendoc to manage major fire activity south of Deddick. Isolated fires at the far eastern end of the state have been contained, but otherwise the Victorian fire situation continues to escalate.
Planning cooperation between NSW and Victorian fire authorities has increased to halt the eastern progress of the fire front.

Weather
Tonight: Winds E/NE at 20 to 30km per hour and easing to NE/N overnight and early Monday morning.
Monday: Dry. Light to moderate NE winds
Tuesday: Dry. Warm afternoon. Light to moderate NE winds.
Wednesday: Dry. Warm. Light NE winds becoming moderate to fresh in the afternoon.

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

Source: NSW Rural FireService

VICTORIA:

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

Source: http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/  

VICTORIA:

Monday, February 3, 2003. Posted: 12:29:42 (AEDT)
Predicted weather change to threaten towns

Firefighters are continuing backburning operations across the north-east ofVictoria ahead of more predicted hot weather mid week. The alpine fires haveburnt more than 900,000 hectares and are now threatening a number of Gippslandtowns.The total fire edge now stretches 1,700 kilometres from Mt Buffalo toDeddick Valley, east of the Snowy River.

The Department of Sustainability says towns including Dargo, Swifts Creek,Ensay, Buckhan, Bendoc and Deddick will be at threat when when northerly windsstrengthen later in the week. The department’s Mike Leonard says onlysignificant rain will extinguish the blazes. Firefighters are taking advantageof the current mild weather to backburn along the southern edge of the fire.Overnight, crews built containment lines and backburned in the Mountain Creek,Mitta Mitta, Wabba Wilderness Park and Mount Beauty areas.

The EPA has issued a smoke alert for Melbourne today.

Sunday  Statewide Alpine Fires Update February 2nd 2003 7am (Day 26)

Focus Switches to Gippsland/Snowy River Area

Current Summary

· On ground efforts continued overnight to determine the extent of the firescurrently burning in the northern area of the Snowy River National Park andadjacent private property. Indications are that the fire has progressed east ofthe Snowy River and moving in a south-easterly direction. Containment lines willcontinue to be established around private property and assets in theTubbut/Deddick/Bonang area. A major containment line is being constructedbetween Victoria and NSW in an effort to limit the SE spread of this fire.
· In Gippsland fire crews have continued to establish containment lines alongprivate property boundaries and around assets in the Cassalis, Bindi, SwiftsCreek areas. Significant fire activity in the Bindi/Tongio area continue tocreate concern. Crews are continuing to monitor the situation.
· The hard work by fire crews and residents of the North East has resulted inno further reported property damage. In Gippsland, reports indicate substantialdamage to houses and other buildings in the Wulgulmerang/Seldom Seen area northof Buchan as a result of intense fire activity late Friday afternoon. Forfurther information on damage to private property and assets, please phone theCFA on 13 15 99 or 1800 240 667.
· To date, the Alpine fires have burnt approximately 698,700 hectares ofVictorian parks and forests.
· Although there has been an abatement of fire activity in the main fire area,the fire situation is expected to intensify once again over the coming days andresidents are advised to maintain their preparedness levels.

Current Going Fires
· The main Bogong North complex, incorporating the Mt Buffalo fire, has nowburnt over 302,000 hectares and is still burning strongly despite the milderweather experienced yesterday and last night. Fire crews were able to conductlimited backburning operations in preparation for next week’s predicted hotweather.
· The Bogong South fire complex fire continues to remain active and has nowburnt over 396,700 hectares. Damper weather impeded backburning operations insome areas yesterday. The spot fires and lightning strikes outside of the mainfire, continue to be attacked east of the Barry Way. The fire front has crossedthe Snowy River between McKillops Bridge and the NSW border and is moving in aSE direction.

Weather in the Alpine Area

Today: Fine day, mild to warm with winds tending easterly then northerly.Temperatures in the low
30s Monday: Fine. Mainly sunny. Temperatures in the low 30s.
Tuesday: Fine. Temperatures in the mid 30s. Winds tending N/NE av 20-25 kph.

Resources on the alpine fires

· Personnel currently involved:- Around 1770 from the Government agencies
– approximately 1,500 CFA from outside the Region (supporting local volunteerbrigades)
– 120 Army
– 116 South Australian
– 130 NSW Rural Fire Service
– 68 QLD Fire & Rescue
– 33 New Zealand
– 3 liaison personnel from NSW and 1 from QLD Fire Services
– 22 USA (21 firefighters and 1 infra-red specialist)
– Over 30 aircraft including a Navy Sea King and an Army Iroquois Helicopter,over 250 specialised vehicles and 83 bulldozers.

Agencies involved

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, RuralAmbulance Victoria, St John’s Ambulance, the Army Reserve, the Australian Navy,State Emergency Service, WICEN (Wireless Institute Civil Emergency Network),local municipalities, New Zealand fire and conservation agencies, SouthAustralian Country Fire Service and Parks Service, NSW Rural Fire Service andState Forests, QLD Fire and Rescue Service and several US fire agencies.

Community Information

· Community meetings continue to be held throughout the region. More than 5,000people have now attended these meetings. Meetings are scheduled for today inCann River, Cabbage Tree and Mt Taylor. The meetings are designed to assistlocal residents and visitors to the area with the current fire situation, and toput in place on-going community networks. Further community meetings will occuras necessary and will be advised locally.

· Liaison between local shires/DSE/DPI/CFA/PV and Victoria Police continues ona regular basis, as does liaison with NSW fire agencies. Local Community Updatescontinue to be circulated on a regular basis.

· The DSE website (www.nre.vic.gov.au) is being regularly updated with fireinformation, including community newsletters and maps.

Fire Statistics

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 675 fires have occurred. These have burnt over 939,290hectares. The 20-year average for this time of year is 357 fires, having burntover 49, 000 hectares.

DSE/DPI Fire Update Monday February 3rd 2003 6am (Day 27)
Alpine and East Victoria Fires Update

Current Summary

· Quieter conditions yesterday and overnight allowed fire crews to continue strengthening containment lines, particularly around threatened communities. Smoke haze covers much of Eastern Victoria as a result of the light winds. Smoke over the fire area has severely restricted aircraft activity and this situation is expected to continue over the next couple of days.
· Today an additional six US fire personnel will arrive in Melbourne to assist with Victorian firefighting efforts. All six are trained Incident Management Team specialists. Initially they will be based in Melbourne to undergo familiarisation training, and it is expected that they will then be deployed to the Gippsland Region.
· South Australian crews are changing over, with a new contingent due to arrive this morning. The efforts of the departing crews are greatly appreciated.
· To date, the Alpine fires have burnt approximately 916, 000 hectares of Victorian parks and forests.
· Although there has been a lessening of fire activity in the main fire area, the fire situation is expected to intensify once again over the coming days and residents are advised to maintain their preparedness levels and remain alert.
· Planning for the rehabilitation of the fire area has been underway now for several days.

Current Going Fires

· Consolidation of containment lines and backburning in the Mountain Creek, Mitta Mitta, Wabba Wilderness Area and Mount Beauty areas has continued in the north overnight. Despite the milder weather experienced yesterday and last night, the southern section of the fire is still burning strongly. With higher temperatures and northerly winds forecast for mid-week, the focus is on the southern edge of the main fire. Crews are working to ensure mineral earth breaks and backburns are completed, particularly around threatened townships.
· Four separate fires are burning in East Gippsland in the northern end of the Snowy River National Park. These fires are thought to have started from lightning strikes late last week. A major containment line is being constructed along the Yalmy Road to Bonang in the east in an effort to contain the southern and eastern extension of these fires.
· A major containment line is also being constructed from the south-eastern edge of the Slaughterhouse Creek fire in southern NSW to the Deddick Valley in Victoria. This line will complement protection works being conducted around the small community of Tubbut.

Weather in the north-east

Today: Light to moderate NE winds, with temperatures in low 30s.
Tuesday: Dry, warm to hot. Winds will tend N during the day, with a slight chance of late thundery showers.
Wednesday: Generally warm to hot with initial N/NE wind. Isolated thunderstorms and showers with a moderate southerly wind possible late in the day.

Resources on the Alpine Fires

· Personnel currently involved:
– – Around 1770 from the Government agencies
– approximately 1,500 CFA from outside the Region
– 120 Army
– 116 South Australian
– 68 QLD Fire & Rescue
– 33 New Zealand
– 3 liaison personnel from NSW and 1 from QLD Fire Services
– 28 USA
· Over 30 aircraft including a Navy Sea King and an Army Iroquois Helicopter, over 250 specialised vehicles and 83 bulldozers.

Agencies involved

The Department of Sustainability and Environment, Department of Primary Industries, Parks Victoria, the Country Fire Authority, local plantation company brigades, forest industry crews and equipment, Victoria Police, Red Cross, Rural Ambulance Victoria, St John’s Ambulance, the Army Reserve, the Australian Navy, State Emergency Service, WICEN (Wireless Institute Civil Emergency Network), local municipalities, New Zealand fire and conservation agencies, South Australian Country Fire Service and Parks Service, QLD Fire and Rescue Service and several US fire agencies.

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. For information on significant fires on private land in rural Victoria, please call the CFA on 13 15 99 or 1800 240 667.
· For information regarding public road closures, please call the Victoria Police Emergency Information Line on 1800 444 343.
· For information on Gippsland fires, and on post fire assistance, please call the Traralgon Information Line on 1800 668 066 (6am – midnight).
· Alpine Shires are maintaining community information phone lines.

Community Information

· Community meetings continue to be held throughout the Alpine and East Gippsland region. More than 5,000 people have now attended these meetings. Meetings are scheduled for today in Bemm River, Bruthen and Cann River, and tomorrow in Genoa and Mallacoota. The meetings are designed to assist local residents and visitors to the area with the 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 a regular basis, as does liaison with NSW fire agencies. Local Community Updates continue to be circulated on a regular basis.
· The DSE website (www.nre.vic.gov.au) is being regularly updated with fire information, including community newsletters and maps.

Fire Statistics

Victoria has around 7.7 million hectares of parks and forests. In an average summer around 620 wildfires occur and these burn around 110, 000 hectares. To date this season 677 fires have occurred. These have burnt over 1,143,000 hectares. The 20-year average for this time of year is 364 fires, having burnt over 50, 000 hectares.

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.

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:

WAVERLEY / DISTILLERY CREEK – SITUATION REPORT
04:10:07 PM 03 February, 2003
Currently there are two fires burning about 5 hectares in size near the water treatment plant at Distillery Creek. Although there is a lot of smoke no property is under threat at this stage.

WHITES FLAT, LAKE CRESCENT – SITUATION UPDATE, 04:06:41 PM 03 February, 2003
Contained. Local brigades patrolling.

HYLANDS RD, MURDUNNA – SITUATION UPDATE, 04:06:07 PM 03 February, 2003
Contained. Forestry crews patrolling.

BROADMARSH / BRIGHTON / MAGRA 04:05:31 PM 03 February, 2003
Contained. Local brigades patrolling.

TWELVETREES RANGE, STRATHGORDON 04:05:01 PM 03 February, 2003
Fire remains contained.

SADDLEBACK PLANTATION, MATHINNA 04:04:32 PM 03 February, 2003
Contained. Forestry crews patrolling.

BEN LOMOND MARSHES – SITUATION UPDATE 04:04:02 PM 03 February, 2003
The fire has been controlled. Forestry crews patrolling.

UXBRIDGE – SITUATION UPDATE 04:03:30 PM 03 February, 2003
Contained. Local brigades patrolling.

WHITEMARK, FLINDERS ISLAND – SITUATION UPDATE 04:02:36 PM 03 February, 2003
Fire contained within constructed boundaries. Being patrolled by local brigades.

WATER RESTRICTIONS 04:01:54 PM 03 February, 2003
Water restrictions are the responsibility of local councils and water authorities. These vary from place to place.
People are advised to contact their local council for the details of water restrictions in their areas. 

Source:
Tasmania Fire Service (TFS)


QUEENSLAND

South-East fire bans extended
3/2/03

Despite current wet weather in the south east of the State, fire bans in the Rural Fire Service Ipswich District, which were due to be lifted at midnight tonight will be extended.The Local Fire Bans apply to the shires of Gold Coast, Beaudesert, Boonah, Ipswich, Gatton, Laidley, Esk and Logan.

District Inspector Bernard Trembath said the rainfall being enjoyed in some of these shires at present had not yet been significant or widespread enough to make a real difference to long term fire risk.

These bans prohibit the lighting of all fires, with the following exceptions:

1. Fires within a properly constructed barbecue are permitted, provided they are not left unattended. (Gas and electric barbecues may be used).
2. Fires for the purpose of disposal of animal carcasses are permitted, subject to 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 Permit to Light Fire by the Rural Fire Service District Inspector.
4. Fires lit for the purpose of burning standing sugar cane for harvest in accordance with the established practice of the industry.
5. Fires lit for the purpose of burning sugar cane tops and harvesting trash between the hours of 1800 (6.00pm) and 0900 (9.00am).

The bans will recommence at midnight tonight, Monday 3 February, and will remain in place until the fire risk is significantly reduced.

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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