The smoke plume from fires in southeast Australia was 300 kilometers (186 miles) wide in places and more than 877 kilometers (545 miles) long on February 4, 2003. Fires have been burning out of control in the region for several weeks, even invading urban areas such as Canberra, the nations capital. This true-colorModerateResolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image was captured by theAqua satellite.
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.
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.)
Fire Weather Forecast for the Pacific Region
Fire Weather Index for the Pacific Region for tomorrow. (Source: ECPCFire Weather Index Forecast)
NEW SOUTH WALES:
Snowy Region Fire Facts Summary Wednesday, 5 February 2003
Mild conditions overnight helped fire fighters further consolidate the gains they have made over the past few days. Ground-based fire fighters continue to work area by area, securing and linking containment lines.
The broad strategy is to establish a network of containment lines that are as secure as possible, to suppress active edges of fire and to gradually blacken out hot spots of fire within containment lines. Fire fighters hope is that if extreme fire weather returns, there will be less active fire which may breach containment lines.
Mild winds early last night enabled fire fighters to detect hot spots in active fires, particularly in the Avonside, Kosciuszko Road and Crackenback areas. This enabled them to pinpoint and extinguish burning embers. Meanwhile, prevailing easterly winds have continued to help fire fighters complete deep, effective back burns.
Fire fighters also took advantage of the conditions to drop aerial incendiaries to consolidate back burns on Mount Kalkite and near Paupong. As a result Mount Kalkite burnt quite spectacularly yesterday evening. Residents should not be concerned, as the fires are burning well behind containment lines.
Fire authorities have announced they will open a few limited areas of Kosciuszko National Park from this evening. A public meeting has been arranged this evening in Dalgety.
Limited areas open to visitors this evening From this evening, depending on the current conditions, visitors will be readmitted into selected areas in the alpine resorts and the Mount Kosciuszko area. This is the first step in what is envisaged as a gradual reopening of the park, with tourists allowed back into popular areas when they are confirmed safe. The reopening is conditional at this stage and will depend on daily inspections to assess fire risk.
From this evening visitors will be able to travel along Kosciuszko Road as far as Charlotte Pass, and the Alpine Way as far as Thredbo. They will be able to use tourist facilities in the resorts, including the Thredbo Chairlift, and walk to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko from Charlotte Pass or from the top of the Thredbo Chairlift.
Assessment of fire risk is being undertaken as quickly as possible. However until roads, trails and walking tracks have been assessed for rehabilitation and potential dangers such as falling trees, they will remain closed.
Public meeting this evening at Dalgety A public meeting has been arranged at Dalgety Hall this evening at 6pm to inform local people of the current state of the fires and the steps being taken to combat them. It will take place at.
Tomorrow meetings are scheduled at 5pm at Delegate School of Arts and 7.30pm at Bombala RSL Auditorium.
Reinforcements Reinforcements continue to arrive to relieve crews on the fire ground. They include a Queensland task force of some 30 fire fighters, five trucks and mechanical support. Numerous Rural Fire Service volunteers are assisting from areas including Dubbo, Orange, Muswellbrook, Deniliquin, Wentworth, Wellington and Moama. Some 40 National Parks and Wildlife Service personnel are also coming from Sydney, the Hunter and the South Coast.
Avonside Road Containment lines have now been established right around the Avonside fire. Crews continue to mop up and patrol the area, particularly the Beloko Road area to the south. Aerial mapping is scheduled today to assess the exact extent of the fire.
Mount Kalkite The spectacular burning on Mount Kalkite overnight helped to reduce fuel in this, the last substantial area of unburnt land between Lake Eucumbene and Lake Jindabyne. Fire fighters have also completed a dozer control line on the north side of the mountain. Some 10 crews will be in the area today to back burn from containment lines up the hill towards the burnt areas. Fire fighters are very happy with their progress in this area. Residents shouldnt be concerned even though smoke and flames are clearly visible at times, as the fire is well behind containment lines.
The Barry Way, Moonbah, Ingebyra and Paupong areas Fire fighters continue to focus on property protection in these areas. Backburns were completed overnight near Rendezvous Creek and Carlisle, while aerial incendiaries helped consolidate control lines near Paupong. Mop up and patrol continues. Some small fires south of the Jindabyne airfield were suppressed yesterday by water-bombing helicopters.
Alpine Way, Crackenback and Wollondibby areas Fire fighters continue to contain fires in the resorts, with asset protection their top priority. Today they plan to round up a fire near Lake Crackenback which is approaching the Alpine Way.
There was active fire overnight near the Kosciuszko Road, in the Wilsons Valley and Mount Piper areas. It settled down in the cool temperatures and dew of the early hours. Fire fighters back burnt along the bottom of the Crackenback Ridge to protect properties in the vicinity.
Thredbo The Thredbo area remains quiet. Patrols continue and property protection remains a priority.
Snowy Plains and Adaminaby area These areas remain quiet and are being patrolled by local crews.
Border area The substantial NSW containment lines to the west of Delegate have now met up with Victorian control lines in the Dellicknora area. Last night fire fighters patrolled, mopped up and blackened out burnt edges as far as the Bonang River. Deep back burns have consolidated most of these lines.
Some 40 firefighters are in the area today extinguishing hot spots to consolidate the eastern containment lines, and completing containment lines south of the Snowy River near Corrowong to protect against possible spot fires blowing south from the Paupong area.
Fire fighters will continue patrolling the lines 24 hours a day. It is designed to contain fires burning in the Byadbo area of Kosciuszko National Park and to form part of a strategic control line to contain fires burning in Victoria. The aim is to hold the line against a fire front approaching slowly from Victoria, which is not expected to impact on the area for some days.
North Kosciuszko area The fires in the northern Kosciuszko area were again quiet overnight. There is now no fire outside containment lines. Aerial surveillance of the area continues and ground crews continue to mop up and patrol the Black Andrews fire, in the Burrinjuck Dam area, and the Yellow Bog fire in the western area of the park. Some 30 personnel are active in the area today. Resources are gradually being wound back as the threat recedes.
Weather Today: moderate, variable western winds before a moderate NE change this evening. Temperatures are expected to peak at about 34 degrees and humidity will be low, so fire activity can be expected to increase somewhat today. Tonight: dry with light NE-SE winds. Thursday: dry and warm to hot with light northerly winds tending moderate NE in the afternoon. Friday: chance of thunderstorms. Warm to hot with light to moderate NW-NE winds
Care with machinery Jindabyne Fire Control is urging residents to be extremely careful when using plant such as slashers, mowers and edge-trimmers that have the potential to ignite fires. Use them in the morning when there is dew on the ground and temperatures are lower. All slashers must carry fire-fighting equipment.
Livestock management The NSW Department of Agriculture has advised of a range of actions people can take if they are concerned about the safety of their livestock during the current bushfire crisis. For more details contact the Department of Agriculture on 0411 139594.
Snowy Mountains Fire Facts Summary Tuesday, 4 February 2003, 21:30 hours
Wednesday, 5 February 2003 – Favourable winds and a relatively mild day again allowed firefighters to deepen and consolidate control lines throughout the Snowy Mountains area. Fire fighters continued to work section by section, securing and linking containment lines.
Fire activity was much reduced today. Several small, isolated fires flared up in areas which have been burning for some time. Some small fires south of the Jindabyne airfield were suppressed by water-bombing helicopters.
Public meeting tomorrow at Dalgety A public meeting has been arranged at Dalgety tomorrow, Wednesday 5 February, to inform local people of the current state of the fires and the steps being taken to combat them. It will take place at Dalgety Hall at 6pm.
On Thursday 6 February meetings will be conducted at 5pm at Delegate School of Arts and 7.30pm at Bombala RSL Auditorium.
Backburning continues Minor back burns were undertaken today near the Barry Way and Crackenback Ridge. This evening fire fighters took advantage of the mild conditions to drop incendiaries on fires moving slowly on Mount Kalkite and near Paupong. They were designed to minimise the future fire risk in these areas by bringing fire up to containment lines.
Substantial amounts of smoke have been generated in these areas, particularly on Mount Kalkite which has been burning spectacularly this evening. Residents should not be concerned, as the fires are burning well behind containment lines.
Mount Kalkite is regarded as a key area because it is the last substantial area of unburnt land between Lake Eucumbene and Lake Jindabyne. Fire fighters hope to render the area safe by reducing fuel during the mild weather conditions.
Avonside Containment lines have now been established to the north and south of the Avonside fire. Crews continue to mop up and patrol the area.
Border strategy NSW fire fighters have now established containment lines from the Byadbo area in Kosciuszko National Park all the way to Camerons Track, some 10 kilometres across the Victorian border. Deep back burns have consolidated most of this line; fire fighters will now concentrate on consolidating the southern most section of the line from Roaring Camp to Camerons Track.
Thereafter, fire fighters will patrol the lines 24 hours a day. The plan is to hold the line against a fire front approaching slowly from Victoria, which is not expected to impact on the area for some days. This line is designed to contain fires burning in the Byadbo area of Kosciuszko National Park and to form part of a strategic control line to contain fires burning in Victoria.
Weather outlook Another mild night with heavy dew is forecast for tonight. Winds are expected to ease as the night wears on.
Gradually rising temperatures, more variable winds and lower relative humidity tomorrow could be expected to increase fire activity slightly. Fire fighters do not currently envisage a return to the extreme fire conditions experienced last Thursday.
For further information contact: Kosciuszko National Park Fire Hotline 1800 004 439 ACT Fire Information 132281 Websites: www.npws.nsw.gov.au, www.rfs.gov.au, www.bom.gov.au Listen to Snowy Mountains 2XL, Snow FM and your local ABC. Websites: www.npws.nsw.gov.au or www.rfs.nsw.gov.au
Fire in the Carlisle River Area (near Colac) 5th Feb 6pm
CFA advises residents in the Carlisle River and Gellibrand areas of a fire in the Carlisle area.
The fire is approximately 2 kilometres north-east of Black Bridge, on the Carlisle-Colac Road and is travelling in a north-east direction. Residents in the Black Brigade and Escarpment Road area may be threatened by this fire.
Residents can expect smoke and burning embers to reach their property. They are advised to patrol their homes, to find and put out any burning embers that may be landing.
CFA advise road-users to remain outside of the area affected by the fire. Residetns of the area not currently at home should not at this time try to return to the area, as access is limited and the roads may not be safe.
CFA and DSE are in attendance, including aircraft. The fire has not entered the plantation and Forest industry brigades are on standby.
Bogong North Fires Update 5 Feb 2:30pm
Information for the local communities in the Bogong North area about going fires and the control measures being used. 05/02/2003
Status of the Fires The Bogong North Complex fire is still declared going and of concern. However, most areas are now contained and experiencing little or no fire behaviour.
Backburning continues today at the southern end of the fire (Schultz, Abbeyard and Tea Tree Sectors) and south of Eskdale and near Mitta Mitta.
Despite hotter temperatures yesterday no significant problems were experienced with the fire. Warmer conditions today and predicted northerly winds could create some problems for firefighters trying to hold containment lines on the southwestern flank of the fire, well away from any private property. The southerly wind change predicted for this afternoon could blow embers across containment lines. Residents need to remain vigilant in the Eskdale, Mitta Mitta and Little Snowy Creek areas north of Mt Beauty.
Residents in the vicinity of all fires are reminded to remain vigilant over the coming days. Warmer conditions and northerly winds are likely to increase fire behaviour. Whilst no towns are under immediate attack from the firefront there is potential for ember attack in extreme fire weather. NOTE: Buses and parents driving children to school will be travelling on the local roads. This will create additional traffic on the roads. Keep your headlights on and allow extra time to get there safely.
Fire Reports Bright / Porepunkah / Wandiligong / Ovens Buckland / Demon Ridge / Lake Buffalo Little or no fire activity. Patrolling continues with no issues or hot spots reported.
Harrietville /Freeburgh / Mt Beauty / Tawonga * Little or no fire activity. Mopping up and blacking out continues today. * Fire is backing down ridge within containment line. * One spotover has still not been contained. Crews are currently working on the containment of the spotover. This spotover remains of concern and may be difficult to hold. The spotover does not pose any threat to private property. * Backburning will continue today near Mt Selwyn. * Patrolling and blacking out continues in the area.
Abbeyard * Critical backburning at Mt Sugarloaf continues today. * Backburning will continue today. 7 km of backburn completed, 9km of backburn still to complete. * Blacking out and patrolling will continue on contained sections.
Mitta Valley Blacking out continues around Callaghans Creek, all backburning has been completed. All backburns remain within containment lines and quiet in the Mitta Valley. Patrolling and blacking out where required.
Mountain Creek * Dozers will continue to brush up containment lines around the major spotover at Mountain Creek. * Remaining 13km of backburning in the Mt Elmo area continues today. * Fallback line along Eskdale Spur Track and Bowmans No. 2 Track will be brushed up today.
Further information and community updates are available from the DSE website.
Upper Murray Fires Update 5 Feb 2:30pm
Information for the local communities about fires in the Upper Murray area and the measures being implemented to control them. 05/02/2003
Murray to Mitta Mitta Roundup With the third night of good news, back burning is complete from the Murray to Mitta Mitta. 203km of fire line has burnt edge against it. Crews should be congratulated on this huge combined backburning effort! It is a credit to fire crews and the local people.
As Corryong ICC scales down resources are being directed to the Gippsland fire effort. However, a smaller team will continue to operate in the North East.
With warmer conditions in the next few days we need to remain alert until burn lines are fully strengthened with some depth, particularly in the Wabba Wilderness area.
The next 24 hours should indicate the success of the holding lines.
Status of Fires
Mitta Valley Blacking out continues around Callaghan’s creek, all backburning has been completed.
All backburns remain within containment lines and quiet in the Mitta Valley. Patrolling and blacking out where required.
Wabba Wilderness Backburning was completed around 2pm yesterday. The line scan shows good depth with only one or two areas requiring strengthening. Overnight firefighters worked in extremely steep terrain carting water into the area. Today patrolling and black out will continue along the Wabba Track and Ferguson Track. The success of the back burning will be indicated over the next 24 hours as we face warmer weather conditions.
Tallangatta Valley & Cravensville Cravensville, all is quiet with continued patrolling of containment lines. In Tallangatta Valley, general patrolling and blacking out on Waterfall Track is progressing well. The remainder of the sector is quiet.
Nariel Valley Patrol and blackout required in Nariel and the old Northern sector. The area has been very quiet but is still being patrolled by local CFA crews today.
For further information and community updates, visit the DSE website
Gippsland Community Update 5 Feb 2:00pm
Information for the local communities and visitors to Gippsland and the North-East about going fires and the control measures being used in Gippsland. 05/02/2003
The Bogong South Complex of fires burning in the Gippsland region cover 406,500 hectares of country, stretching from Dargo in the west to Tubbut in the east.
Spotfires flared in the Dellicknora Valley last night but have been contained.
The fire situation is expected to intensify again over the coming days and affected residents are advised to maintain preparedness levels and remain alert.
Bogong (South) Complex Fire Update 5 Feb 11:00am
Fire crews are today being deployed based on the forecast of strengthening winds. Incident Controller at Swifts Creek, Geoff Evans said that they are expecting to be tested and will be prepared for a bad day.
‘We have nine CFA strike teams and 120 DSE/DPI staff at Swifts Creek and Omeo, with our New Zealand friends joining us again today,’ Mr Evans said.
‘We may also be able to use aircraft today as the smoke has cleared with a stronger wind, giving us the opportunity to bomb the fire directly and to monitor its location.’
Mr Evans warned communities to stay on high alert, particularly in the Swifts Creek, Ensay, Bindi, Cassilis and Brookville areas.
In the Dellicknora Valley, three spotfires were successfully contained last night, after communities in that area were put on high alert for ember attack.
The spotfires in the Snowy River National Park have increased in size overnight and backburning operations in this area will be continuing.
In the Dargo area, crews and dozers have been working hard on tracks and backburns to protect the town and establish fallback lines.
The spotfire at Matheson’s Flat has increased in size with freshening winds overnight, but is still north of the containment line.
More US assistance arrives in Gippsland today, with Incident Management experts joining our teams in managing and planning the fire suppression effort.
Motorists are warned not to cross roadblocks, even if the fire has passed and the road appears safe. Smouldering trees could fall well after the fire front has passed through and come down across roads.
More community updates and information are available on the DSE website.
Eastern Victorian Fires Update 5 Feb 09:00am
Fire Crews Again Prepare for Hotter Conditions
Poor visibility from smoke again yesterday restricted the monitoring of the fire from the air in some remoter locations.
Strong winds created problems yesterday afternoon around Dellicknora, Tubbut, Cabanandra and Bonang in north East Gippsland. Those communities were put on high alert for ember attack and advised to enact their Bushfire Plans. An unoccupied house at Dellicknora was lost late yesterday.
Fire crews have worked over the past few days to prepare for the forecast thunderstorm activity today and tomorrow. Some lightning is also predicted with the southerly change this afternoon.
To date, the Eastern Victorian fires have burnt over 922, 000 hectares of Victorian parks and forests.
The fire situation is predicted to intensify once again within the next day or two and all residents in the fire area are advised to maintain their preparedness levels and to remain alert.
DSE/DPI Fire Update Wednesday February 5 2003 6am (Day 29)
· Poor visibility from smoke again yesterday restricted the monitoring of the fire from the air in some remoter locations. · Strong winds created problems yesterday afternoon around Dellicknora, Tubbut, Cabanandra and Bonang in north East Gippsland. Those communities were put on high alert for ember attack and advised to enact their Bushfire Plans. An unoccupied house at Dellicknora was lost late yesterday. · Fire crews have worked over the past few days to prepare for the forecast thunderstorm activity today and tomorrow. Some lightning is also predicted with the southerly change this afternoon. · To date, the Eastern Victorian fires have burnt over 922, 000 hectares of Victorian parks and forests. · The fire situation is predicted to intensify once again within the next day or two and all residents in the fire area are advised to maintain their preparedness levels and to remain alert.
Current Going Fires
· The fire which stretches from Mt Buffalo in the west, to the NSW border and to near Deddick in East Gippsland has now burnt over 885, 000 hectares. · In the north of the fire area most containment lines are now in place. These extend for around 300km. Fire behaviour was mild overnight. Locations of concern continue to include Mitta Mitta, Eskdale and the Abbeyard sector, south of Mt Buffalo. Backburning continued yesterday and overnight to the south of Mt Buffalo, and south of Eskdale and near Mitta Mitta. · On the southeastern section of the fire, backburns in the Snowy River National Park are planned to link up with backburns coming south from New South Wales. Five kms of backburning were completed north of Tubbut last night. Nineteen km remain to be completed. · Of the four other fires burning in the northern end of the Snowy River National Park in East Gippsland, only three remain active. The fourth fire is in an area of backburning planned to link the NSW and Victorian fires. Fire crews are still working on the three other fires, which have now burnt a combined area of approximately 800 hectares.
Weather in the north-east and east gippsland
Today: Smoke haze mainly in the morning. A very warm to hot day with northerly winds. Temperatures in the mid 30s. Cloud increasing with possible isolated thunderstorms and lightning later in the day. Thursday: Temperatures in the low 30s. Isolated afternoon showers and thunderstorms possible. Winds NE/SE. Friday: Warm to hot. Isolated afternoon showers and thunderstorms possible.
Resources on the Eastern Fires
· Personnel currently involved: – – Around 1,900 from the Government agencies – approximately 1, 500 CFA from outside the Region – 120 Army – 116 South Australian – 68 QLD Fire & Rescue (returning to QLD today) – 33 New Zealand – 35 USA
· Over 30 aircraft including a Navy Sea King and an Army Iroquois Helicopter, over 250 specialised vehicles, at least 100 bulldozers, and a major commitment from the Gippsland based timber industry.
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, the Army Reserve, the Australian Navy, local municipalities, Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board (MFB), New Zealand fire and conservation agencies, QLD Fire and Rescue Service, Red Cross, Rural Ambulance Victoria, South Australian Country Fire Service and Parks Service, St John’s Ambulance, State Emergency Service, Victoria Police, WICEN (Wireless Institute Civil Emergency Network) and several US land management agencies.
Threats to private property and road closures
· For details of currently confirmed property losses please call CFA on 13 15 99. In total around 75,000 hectares of farming land has been burnt, 39 houses, over 200 other buildings and over 9, 000 stock. Losses continue to be assessed and stock losses are expected to increase as more adequate assessments can be made once conditions become safer. · 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). · Towong Shire is maintaining community information phone lines.
· Community meetings continue to be held throughout the Alpine and East Gippsland region. More than 5,500 people have now attended these meetings. Meetings are scheduled for today in Johnsonville (Johnsonville Town Hall at 7pm), Ensay (CFA sheds at 4:30pm) and Swifts Creek (CFA sheds at 6pm) and for Friday in Metung (Metung Bowling Club Main Rd at 7:30pm). 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.
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 682 fires have occurred. These have burnt around 1,145 million hectares. The 20-year average for this time of year is 372 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.
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.