GFMC: Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

06 February 2003

Bushfires Raging in Southeast Australia


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Fires have been burning out of control in the region for several weeks, even invading urban areas such as Canberra, the nation’s capital. This true-colorModerateResolution Imaging Spectroradiometer  (MODIS) images was captured by theTerra satellite on 05February 2003.

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This true-colorModerateResolution Imaging Spectroradiometer  (MODIS) image was captured by theAqua satellite on 06February 2003.


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:

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Latest weekly global fire potential product map, including Australia 
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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

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Fire Weather Index for the 
Pacific Region for tomorrow.
(Source: ECPCFire Weather Index Forecast)



Snowy Region Fire Facts Summary Wednesday, 5 February 2003
Snowy Region Fire Facts Summary Thursday, 6 February 2003, 08:30 hours

Thursday, 6 February 2003 – Overview
Fire fighters yesterday achieved more consolidation of containment lines, particularly in the border area to the west of Delegate. While weather conditions remained generally favourable fire fighters experienced difficulties in highly variable winds, particularly following a mid-afternoon change.

Spot fires and flare-ups required suppression in a number of areas. Containment lines were breached in some places. Backburning was also difficult in the fluky winds.

Overnight fire activity was quiet, particularly after midnight when temperatures dropped and humidity rose substantially. Ground crews maintained extensive patrols of the area. Outbreaks have now been contained in most areas.

Erratic winds, high temperatures and possible afternoon thunderstorms predicted for today may again challenge fire fighters. However they do not anticipate a return to the extreme weather experienced last week.

Areas of focus today include Kalkite Mountain, where some spot fires are still uncontained, and the Paupong and Numbla Vale areas. Asset protection continues to be a priority in the Kosciuszko Road, Guthega, Crackenback and Avonside areas.

Fire fighters will also maintain a close watch on the Bogong fire approaching from Victoria. However the fire front remains some distance into Victoria and a long containment line strengthened by extensive back burning has been completed as a strategic control line.

Public meetings are scheduled this evening in Delegate and Bombala.

Limited areas of Kosciuszko National Park now open to visitors
Visitors are now able to travel along Kosciuszko Road as far as Charlotte Pass, and the Alpine Way as far as Thredbo. They can 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.
Reopening of areas of the park is at a conditional stage, dependent on daily assessments of fire risk.

Public meetings this evening
Public meetings are scheduled today at 5pm at Delegate School of Arts and 7.30pm at Bombala RSL Auditorium. People are welcome to attend for the latest updates on the fires and the work being done to combat them.

Avonside Road
Fire fighters had concerns yesterday over potential flare-ups in gullies in the Willow View area. Some backburning occurred yesterday along the southern containment lines near Beloko. Helicopters water bombed this area, while reconnaissance aircraft flew overhead to map the area. Overnight crews monitored and observed the back burn in the Beloko area.

Kalkite Mountain and Snowy Plains
Fire behaviour did not proceed as expected yesterday because of the erratic winds. Strong north-westerly winds at high elevation caused two spot fires east of the Eucumbene River in the Wandilla area. Water bombing helicopters quickly rounded up both fires.

Ground crews conducted limited back burning overnight and worked to suppress new spot fires beyond the Pretty Pot Trail to the north. While these spotovers are burning outside containment lines they have not jumped the Eucumbene River. Crews plan to adjust containment lines to contain the spotovers and there will be extensive aerial activity in the area today.

Kosciuszko Road
Active fire yesterday to the west of Sawpit Creek and Wilsons Valley caused some damage to power poles. Crews continued to patrol the area overnight, particularly near Mount Piper and a flare-up in the Ski Rider area. Fire activity decreased through the night.

Alpine Way
There was active fire yesterday near the park entrance, Penderlea Hill and the Wollondibby Creek area. Ground crews supported by water bombing helicopters protected property near Westons Road and Wollondibby Road. Crews patrolled the area overnight and kept an eye on fire in the Cascade Trail area, which declined as the night progressed.

Barry Way
Back burns were advanced yesterday in the Round Flat and Spring Creek areas. Crews patrolled and mopped up both lines overnight and this work continues today. Ground crews yesterday consolidated a dozer line behind properties near the Moonbah Range.

Wednesday’s easterly winds prompted spotovers into the Greendale and Henry Vale areas, and south-westerly winds yesterday blew more spot fires into the same vicinity. Crews and helicopters worked throughout the day to round up these fires.

An RFS task force continued protecting property overnight. Crews conducted a back burn in the Greendale area, successfully blacking out the edge of the fire.

Numbla Vale
Yesterday morning crews successfully back burned off substantial containment lines down to the Snowy River. From mid afternoon ground crews and helicopters tackled spot fires prompted by adverse weather conditions in the Box Lodge and Switchback areas. Replacement crews overnight were unable to continue back burning in the heavy dew. They mopped up spot fires including a new spotover north of the Jimenbuen Trig. Fire activity declined through the night.

Mop up of this area continued yesterday. Daytime patrols continue.

Fire in this area remains quiet. Local crews continue to patrol the area.

Border area
Extensive containment lines in the Tingaringy area, west of Delegate, have been deepened with back burning and aerial incendiaries. Additional containment lines are being constructed in the Corrowong area. Fire fighters maintain a close watch on the area, including 24 hour patrol of containment lines, because of the dry conditions and the scale of the fire front approaching from the Bogong Complex in Victoria.

Today there will be no back burning in the border region. Operations will focus on mop up and black out of fire-affected areas. Increased crews will monitor the eastern fire front.

North Kosciuszko area
The fires in the northern Kosciuszko area remain quiet. There is now no fire outside containment lines. Patrols continue.

Today: light easterly winds tending north-westerly in the morning, then increasing to 15-25 kmh east to north-easterlies in the afternoon. Relatively high temperatures (up to 31 degrees), low afternoon humidity and a possible afternoon thunderstorm accompanied by gusty and erratic winds.
Tonight: possible showers and storms clearing with moderate NE winds.
Tomorrow: warm to hot, light to moderate NW-NE winds and more possible thunderstorms.
Saturday: cloudy and warm, light to moderate SE-NE winds and, again, the chance of late afternoon showers and storms.

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.

For further information contact:
Kosciuszko National Park Fire Hotline 1800 004 439
ACT Fire Information 132281
Listen to Snowy Mountains 2XL, Snow FM and your local ABC.
Websites:    or

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

Source: NSW Rural FireService 


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


DSE/DPI Fire Update Thursday February 6 2003 6am (Day 30)

Current Summary

· As the south-west change moved across eastern Victoria late last evening some lightning was recorded south of the Dividing Range, particularly north of Heyfield (to the west of the current major fire). Aerial reconnaissance will occur at first light this morning to check for any new fires.
· Work continues on surrounding the fire on the western, southern and eastern sections.
· Late yesterday afternoon a fire started 2km east of the Carlisle River in the Otway Ranges (near Colac). CFA and DSE crews were deployed, along with two water-bombing helicopters. It is anticipated that this fire will be contained later this morning, with the fire having burned around 100 hectares of State forest and a small area of of private plantation.
· To date, the Eastern Victorian fires have burnt around 930, 000 hectares of Victorian parks and forests. This figure includes the large number of lightning caused fires that were contained in the first weeks of January.
· Heavy cloud over the main eastern Victorian fire last night, following the south-west change, prevented operation of the infra-red mapping aircraft.
· Residents in the vicinity of all fires are reminded to remain vigilant over the coming days. Warmer conditions are again due by Sunday. Whilst no towns are under immediate attack from the firefront there is potential for ember attack in extreme fire weather.
· Sixty-eight Queensland Fire and Rescue personnel, who have been providing major assistance to the fire effort in Gippsland, are returning home today.

Current Going Fires

· The main Eastern Victorian fire, which stretches from Mt Buffalo in the west, to the NSW border and to near Deddick in East Gippsland has now burnt over 893, 000 hectares.
· In the north of the fire area most containment lines are now in place. Areas of concern continue to include Mitta Mitta, Eskdale and areas to the south of Mt Buffalo.

· On the south-eastern section of the fire, backburning in the Snowy River National Park to link to NSW, continued yesterday. Spotfires off the south-eastern edge of the fire in the Snowy Range National Park caused problems, and containment of these was assisted by aircraft. Spot fires south-east of Omeo late yesterday burnt around 800 hectares of grazing land before being contained by CFA crews.
· A wind change late yesterday afternoon to the south east, assisted backburning operations.
· Three separate fires in the north of the Snowy Range National Park remain active. Fire crews are still working on these fires, which have now burnt a combined area of approximately 800 hectares.

Weather in the north-east and east gippsland

Today: Temperatures in the low 30s. Isolated afternoon showers and thunderstorms possible. Winds S to SE.
Friday: Warm. Isolated afternoon showers and thunderstorms possible.
Weekend: Warm, Sunday 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 40 aircraft, including 2 Erickson Aircranes, over 250 specialised vehicles, at least 100 bulldozers, and a major commitment from the Gippsland based timber industry.

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, 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 Information

· Community meetings continue to be held throughout the Alpine and East Gippsland region. More than 5,500 people have now attended these meetings. A meeting is scheduled for tomorrow in Metung (Metung Bowling Club Main Rd at 7:30pm).
· 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 ( 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 686 fires have occurred. These have burnt around 1.15 million hectares. The 20-year average for this time of year is 375 fires, having burnt over 50, 000 hectares.

For general information about DPI or DSE please contact:
DPI/DSE Customer Service Centre
Phone: 136 186
Department of Primary Industries / Department of Sustainability and Environment, Victoria, Australia

CSA Fire Update

Upper Murray (Corryong area) fires update 6th Feb 2pm

Status of Fires

Yesterday’s focus was consolidation and good weather conditions assisted ground crews to achieve this.
the eastern edge of the Wabba Wilderness heated up in the afternoon but remained contained. Burn out work has been completed a day ahead of schedule.
Last night, line enhancement and consolidation work continued, with local crews atrolling Tallangatta Valley and Cravensville. Lightning was experienced from Mansfield to Mt. Buller but no new fires have been reported.Today, patrol and black out will be undertaken across the North East sector. In Mt. Creek, patrolling and blacking out will be carried out.The Army will undertake track clearing to Mt. Benambra and on the fall back lines north of the Mt. Creek sector.Crews and residents are reminded not to become complacent with safety and maintenance of their Bushfire Survival plans during these quieter conditions.
This information has been extracted from the Upper Murray Community Update, produced by DSE. 

Bogong (South) Fires Update 6th Feb 7am
A joint media release from DSE and CFA

Breakouts in the Benambra-Hinnomunjie and Bindi areas burned through a total of 800 hectares of pasture last night. The fires were quickly extinguished by the local CFA Brigade and CFA taskforce.
Lower temperatures and higher humidity have helped to quieten fire behaviour and give crews the opportunity to continue work on consolidating the line from north of Dargo, through the Swifts Creek area to join on the Nunniong Plateau with the eastern section of the fire.
Swifts Creek Incident controller Geoff Evans said that with more backburning today, this line should be completed very soon.
‘There is still a lot of work to be done to clean up around settlements and the perimeter of the fire, but the weather should be on our side for the next few days, giving us the opportunity to consolidate what we’ve done already,’ Mr Evans said.

The three fires in the Snowy River National Park continue to remain unchecked and another small spot has developed south of the existing fires.

A large back burn operation is planned from the Yalmy Road on the eastern boundary of the park to assist in the protection of assets further east. The burn will be 50 – 60km in length through remote, rough country and is expected to burn out large tracts of the Snowy River National Park.

It is planned to commence the back burn this evening or tomorrow if conditions are favourable.

In the Dargo area, the main fire has been stable overnight, but two spotfires at Jones’ Track and Matheson’s Flat are still causing concern. Crews are hoping to consolidate these and bring them into the main fire today.

Operations at Dargo will be expanded over the next few days, with more resources deployed here. The American Incident Management Team will also be arriving at Dargo today to assist with planning operations.
DSE/DPI and CFA teams have been working with the community, particularly graziers, to protect their assets.

Eastern Victoria Fires Update 6th Feb 6am

Further Lightning in Eastern Victoria

Source: CFA (Country Fire Authority) 

Further informationand 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.

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

Currentweather situation, forecasts, fireweather Actual fire Situation Tasmania Actual Fire Situation Maps, Tasmania More Information on Australian Fires IFFN country notes Further Information Australian and New Zealand links. Background information Recent Media Highlights on Fire, Policies, and Politics

Australia´s fire seasons


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