GFMC: Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

07 February 2003

Bushfires Raging in Southeast Australia

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This true-color ModerateResolution Imaging Spectroradiometer  (MODIS) image was captured by the Aqua 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:

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.)

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 Friday, 7 February 2003

Friday, 7 February 2003 – Fire fighters made the most of mild weather conditions yesterday to consolidate containment lines throughout the fireground. The predicted erratic winds and evening storms did not eventuate.

Fire fighting efforts proceeded as planned yesterday in all areas apart from Kalkite Mountain, on the north end of Lake Jindabyne. Spot fires have continued to challenge fire fighters in this area and fire fighters have adopted fallback containment lines.

Other than Kalkite Mountain, fire fighters had a very quiet night in mild conditions. Many night shift crews finished in the early hours to enable them to start earlier again this evening.

The aim is now to hold and consolidate containment lines and attack the areas still burning strongly inside containment lines, to reduce the intensity of all active fires and decrease the danger of outbreaks if weather conditions deteriorate. A large fire mass in Victoria immediately south of the border is also being contained behind increasingly secure lines.

Despite the solid gains made possible by a week of favourable weather, fire authorities caution against complacency. The Snowy Region is still experiencing the sort of fires people can only expect to see once or twice in a lifetime. The fire perimeter is long and variable, with fire persisting in remote, rugged country. The potential still exists for fires to cross containment lines in extreme weather conditions.

Fighting fire with less fire
Fire fighters are now moving into a general approach of mopping up and patrolling fires. They are observing the fires closely, hosing down or water bombing as needed, and breaking up embers and smouldering logs to reduce fire intensity. Back burning and aerial incendiaries are being used sparingly as containment lines become increasingly deep and solid.

Ground crews with aerial support are deepening containment lines, mopping up and patrolling in the Paupong, Numba Vale, Ingebyra and Avonside areas. Occasional spotovers are being contained with air support and ground crews.

Public meetings well attended
Public meetings yesterday evening in Delegate and Bombala attracted more than 200 people who were keen to hear the latest on the fires and the suppression efforts. Meetings in Adaminaby, Bombala, Cabramurra, Dalgety, Delegate, Jindabyne, Khancoban, Talbingo, Thredbo and Tumbarumba have now attracted close to 3,000 attendances over the last three weeks.

Popular tourist attractions now open
Visitors are now able to travel along Kosciuszko Road as far as Charlotte Pass, and the Alpine Way from Jindabyne 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. NPWS is carrying out works to enable other roads and areas to be progressively opened.

Kalkite Mountain and Snowy Plains
Considerable aerial attack was used yesterday to slow the progression of spot fires north of Kalkite Mountain. While these fires have not jumped the Eucumbene River, fallback containment lines have been adopted along the Island Bend and Burnt Ridge fire trails. Dozers were used yesterday to consolidate these lines and back burning overnight deepened the lines between the river, Gungarlin and Nimmo Plain.

Avonside Road
Ground crews back burned yesterday to consolidate containment lines around the Avonside Road fire, particularly to the south near Beloka Road. Patrols of the area continue.

Barry Way
Fire activity is fairly quiet in this area. Crews continue to patrol all fire trails, mop up where required and monitor hot spots east of the Barry Way between Grosses Plain and the Gullies Road.
Kosciuszko Road, Alpine Way and Crackenback areas
While patrol and mop up continues near the resort areas, there is now no direct threat to the popular resorts. Fire between Perisher Creek and Smiggin Holes was suppressed yesterday afternoon. Motorists should proceed with caution and be wary of smoke as fire was active yesterday fairly close to both the Alpine Way near Little Thredbo River and Kosciuszko Road near Rennix Gap.

Crews yesterday undertook property protection and constructed a dozer line near Paupong. The back burn in the Greendale area is now complete. Fire continues to progress through remote country behind the containment lines towards the Snowy River. Local crews continue to patrol and mop up containment lines.

Numbla Vale
Fire remains behind the control lines in the Numbla Vale and Jimenbuen areas, but is progressing towards the Snowy River in remote country. Helicopters water-bombed hot spots yesterday.

Fire controllers plan to install six remote area fire team (RAFT) personnel in the area today to monitor fire approaching the Snowy River, which is the southern containment line in this area. Supported by two helicopters, they will mop up and back burn as necessary with the aim of ensuring the fire does not jump the river. Local crews also continue patrol and mop up.

Daytime patrols continue in this area.

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

Border area
While fallback containment lines have been prepared near Corrowong, the main Tingaringy containment line is looking increasingly secure with further consolidation work yesterday. A NSW strike force is helping the numerous Victorian crews consolidate lines from Bonang to the Snowy River, south of the border. Fire fighters are pleased with their progress in this area.

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

Today: light northerly winds tending west to north-westerly by early afternoon, with gusts up to 45 kmh at higher elevations and a moderate north-easterly influence in eastern areas. Relatively high temperatures, low afternoon humidity and a possible afternoon thunderstorm accompanied by gusty and erratic winds.
Tonight: possible showers clearing with light to moderate NE winds.
Tomorrow: warm with showers and a storm. W/NW winds turning moderate S/SE during the day.
Sunday: chance of showers and storms. Warm with light to moderate E/SE 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.

For further information contact:
Snowy Region Fire Hotline 1800 004 439

Kosciuszko National Park Fire Hotline 1800 004 439

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 Friday February 7 2003 6am (Day 31)

Current Summary

· The lightning that crossed Gippsland early yesterday appears to have only started one new fire, to the north of Heyfield. That fire was contained at around two hectares.
· The north-east section of the main eastern Victorian fire is now behind containment lines, and these have been strengthened considerably. The only section causing current concern is to the south-east of Mt Buffalo. The weather in the NE last night was cool, and humid, with a light northerly breeze.
· In Gippsland work continues on constructing containment lines, particularly in the south-east of the fire area, in far East Gippsland. Cooler conditions last night allowed crews to conduct backburning operations around Omeo and Ensay, and near Tubbut.
· The infra-red fire mapping aircraft was able to gather comprehensive data overnight and this is currently being analysed.
· To date, the Eastern Victorian fires have burnt around 945, 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.

Current Going Fires

· The main Eastern Victorian fire, which stretches from Mt Buffalo in the west, to the NSW border and to the Deddick area in East Gippsland, has now burnt over 909, 000 hectares.
· Two separate fires in the north of the Snowy Range National Park remain active. Fire crews are still working on both of these fires, which have now burnt a combined area of approximately 2, 500 hectares.

Weather in the north-east and east gippsland

Today: A warm to hot and partly cloudy day with generally light winds in the NE, cooler with winds tending to the SE in Gippsland. Isolated thunderstorms possible.
Weekend: Fine with isolated thunderstorms and showers possible. Warmer by Sunday.

Resources on the Eastern Fires

· Personnel currently involved:
– Around 1900 from the Government agencies
– approximately 1, 300 CFA from outside the Region supporting local volunteer brigades
– 127 Army
– 115 South Australian
– 33 New Zealand
– 35 USA

· Over 40 aircraft, 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 Ambulance, State Emergency Service, Victoria Police, WICEN (Wireless Institute Civil Emergency Network) and several United States 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.
· 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 area. More than 6,500 people have now attended these meetings. Meetings are scheduled for tonight in Metung (Metung Bowling Club Main Rd at 7:30pm) and in Buchan (Buchan Recreation Reserve), and on Sunday in Sarsfield (Sarsfield Recreation Reserve at 2.30pm), and for next Wednesday in Heyfield (Heyfield Memorial Hall 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 690 fires have occurred. These have burnt around 1.17 million hectares. The 20-year average for this time of year is 381 fires, having burnt over 50, 600 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

Bogong South Fires Update 7 Feb 4:40pm

An update on the fires in Brookville, North Ensay and Tongio areas

Brookville: currently experiencing 50-60 kmh winds, with spotting occuring 1-1.5km ahead of the fire. Fire has made a run (moved rapidly) of about 4km.

North Ensay: a small grass fire has broken out.
Tongio: fire has made a run but is currently held.
Bindi Station: Numerous spot fires at various locations.
Mount Sarah: Crews have been withdrawn due to strong winds.
Treasure Homestead is currently under threat.
East of Mt Irwin: Spot fires are occurring; containment lines have been lost east of Dargo.
Near Gelantipy: one house at McKillops Bridge is currently under threat, residents are staying to defend.
Swifts Creek: a southerly wind has just pushed through, which will assist firefighting efforts.

Tatong Fire 7 Feb 4:20pm

A fire has started near a plantation just out of Tatong.

An approximate 8 hectare fire is burning 200m north of a plantation at Tatong and is heading slowly in a southerly direction.

There are currently 11 trucks (including CFA, DSE and Hancocks plantation) with over 50 personnel on scene. An aircrane is currently on its way to assist.

Ember attack possible for Swifts Creek and surrounding areas 7 Feb 3:10pm

Ember attack a possibility for townships Swifts Creek, Brookville, Tongio and Ensay North

CFA advises residents in the Swifts Creek, Brookville, Tongio and Ensay North that fire behaviour may cause ember attack. Residents are advised that:

* Embers may be landing around their property soon, and are advised to patrol their houses to find and take all measures to put out any burning embers that may be landing.
* It is important that all residents protect themselves from radiant heat by wearing the right clothing. Residents should wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, sturdy boots, and a broad rimmed hat. On no account should synthetic material be worn.

Update on Bogong South Complex Fire 9am

Firefighters battling sections of the Bogong South Complex fires have spent the night strengthening control lines and conducting more backburns as they try to make the most of the relatively calm weather conditions.

Areas to the south and east of the fires have been the main focus in recent hours, with backburns being conducted in many areas, while in others heavy machinery is being used to strengthen fire-breaks.

However, some regions had a frustrating night despite the calm conditions, with erratic fire conditions making their work more difficult.

In the High Plains sector, a spot fire that began near Mathieson’s Flat has now joined up with the main fire, extending the fire front north of Dargo by about four kilometres.

Smoke has once again made it problematic for air crews to do their job in many areas

More backburns are planned while the weather conditions are favourable, securing containment lines to the south of the main fire.In the eastern section, the emphasis today will be on consolidation of control lines, blacking out and some potential back-burning north of Tubbut and along the Deddick River if favourable weather conditions prevail.Thanks go to the US Fire Crews, South Australian Firefighters who have relieved Queensland Crews in Buchan, the Army and volunteers and support agencies whose invaluable assistance has provided a huge boost to the fire effort.

Bogong North Complex (West) Fires Updates 7th Feb

Community Update.

This is the last regular community update.From today information with be distributed on an as needs basis.

A vast majority of the Bogong North Complex has been “contained” for some time. Areas of concern around Abbeyard, Schultz and Tea Tree Range sectors, south of Mt Buffalo, are not a threat to property.

A smoke haze continues to hang over the valleys and mountains. This haze should begin to clear as the firefront moves further into Gippsland.

Message From the Incident Controllers
Thank-you to local communities, fire crews, Incident Management staff for the great teamwork and support during this fire response.

Resources around townships on the northern perimeter are being scaled back. Residents should still be vigilant over the coming weeks for embers and spot fires.

Message From the Incident Controllers

Thank-you to local communities, fire crews, Incident Management staff for the great teamwork and support during this fire response.

Resources around townships on the northern perimeter are being scaled back. Residents should still be vigilant over the coming weeks for embers and spot fires.

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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