GFMC: Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

09 February 2003

Bushfires Raging in Southeast Australia

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0020 UTC
(0,2 Mb) Pixel Size 250m
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This true-color ModerateResolution Imaging Spectroradiometer  (MODIS) image was captured by the Aqua satellite on 09February 2003.

Fires in southeast Australia continue their apparent march toward the coast on February 7, 2003. This pair of true- and false-color images from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite show active fire fronts marked in red in both images. In the true-color scene (top), smoke fills the skies, while the image below uses false-color image analysis to minimize smoke and enhance the 2-million-plus-acre burn scar, which is deep red against bright green vegetation.

Source: NASA/ EO

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

click here to enlarge (21 KB)

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


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


DSE/DPI Fire Update Saturday February 8 2003 6am (Day 32)

Current Summary

· Expected milder conditions did not eventuate for firefighters tackling parts of the Gippsland fires yesterday. Due to erratic fire behaviour in the afternoon, crews were pulled off a number of containment lines on the western and southern edges of the fire. Two major spot fires occurred north of Dargo yesterday and are being monitored.
· The southerly wind arrived later in the day and eased the threat in Swifts Creek and surrounding districts.
· Two new fires were reported, one twelve kilometres north of Tolmie, near Mansfield which is now contained. The other fire, forty kilometres north of Bairnsdale has not been found.
· Crews overnight conducted backburning in a number of places as weather permitted.
· The north-east section of the main eastern Victorian fire is now behind containment lines, and these have been strengthened considerably. The area still of concern is to the south-west of Mt Buffalo.
· To date, the Eastern Victorian fires have burnt around 961, 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 925, 000 hectares.
· Two separate fires in the north of the Snowy Range National Park remain active and have now burnt a combined area of approximately 2, 500 hectares.

Weather in the north-east and east gippsland

Today: Warm and sunny, with isolated thunderstorms and showers possible in the afternoon.
Sunday: Warm with isolated showers and thunderstorms about the eastern ranges particularly in the afternoon and evening.

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
– 125 Australian Defence Force
– 115 South Australian
– 31 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, Queensland 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.

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 694 fires have occurred. These have burnt around 1.18 million hectares. The 20-year average for this time of year is 387 fires, having burnt over 51, 400 hectares.

CSA Fire Update

Weather Warning for Gippsland and Alpine Districts 9th Feb 6.15pm

Issued at 6.05pm by the Bureau of Meteorology

Severe Thunderstorm Advice

Thunderstorms are primarily near the NSW – Victorian border. Individual storms are moving southeast at 10-15km/h. The storms are expected to cease after dark.

People in these districts are warned that the storms may produce:

-Flash Flooding
-Damaging Winds
-Large Hail

The SES advises that people should keep a lookout for thunderstorms and, if stroms approach, secure loose items, move vehicles under cover, then stay indoors until the storms have passed. Also, do not drive vehicles through flooded areas.

Bureau of Meteorology advise that this advice is valid until 9pm Sunday.

Eastern Fires General Update 9th Feb 5.30pm

A short situation update for fires in Eastern Victoria.

Bogong North
Fires covering 502,000 hectares are not yet under control.
Bogong South
Fires covering 497,900 hectares are not yet under control. Consolidation of the southern containment line has continued and cooler weather conditions have allowed crews to gain control over most spot fires.
Sugarloaf fire (15km SW of Tubbut)
This fire is inside the National Park and is not yet under control. The fire continues to spread towards Mt. Gelantipy.
WB line fire (30km NE Cann River)
This fire is inside National Park and is not yet under control.
Raymond Creek Fire (20-25km NW Orbost)
This fire is not yet under control and is in State Forest.
Mt Ellery Fire (near Goongerah)
This fire is small but not yet under control and was caused by lightning.

Note also that there are severe thunderstorm warnings for the Alpine and Gippsland districts (see separate article below)

Eastern Fires Update 9th Feb 7am


Four new fires were reported yesterday. One north of Cann River (over 30 ha) and another near Goongerah (0.1 ha). These fires are still going. Another fire north of Orbost (25 ha) and one near Shelley in the North East (10 ha) were contained last night.

The area still of concern is to the south-west of Mt Buffalo. Tracking of spot fires in this vicinity has yet to be completed, however these fires are still within planned containment lines.

To date, the Eastern Victorian fires have burnt around 992,350 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.

The Great Alpine Road from Harrietville to Dinner Plain was re-opened yesterday morning.

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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