GFMC: Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

10 February 2003

Bushfires Raging in Southeast Australia

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This true-color ModerateResolution Imaging Spectroradiometer  (MODIS) image was capturedby the Aqua satellite on 09February 2003.

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This true-color ModerateResolution Imaging Spectroradiometer  (MODIS) image was captured by the Aqua satellite on 10 February 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 Mountains Fire Facts Summary Monday, 10 February 2003, 07:30 hours

Mild weather conditions have continued to allow fire fighters to pursue containment operations across all fires in the region. Despite considerable lightning activity yesterday throughout the region no new fires have been reported although some heavy localised showers have occurred with a hail storm reported at Berridale. Given intense lightning activity overnight aerial reconnaissance will be conducted today to check for the possibility of new fires. Overnight storm activity has brought localised heavy falls throughout the region with Cabramurra recording he highest fall of 32 mm mostly between 3pm and 9pm last night. Thredbo recorded just over 8 mm overnight. Some areas however received no rain.

Most work over the past 24 hours has been focused on mop up and patrol of fires with some backburning and aerial incendiary operations continuing. Given forecast mild weather expected over the next few days this is likely to remain the pattern.

Weather conditions have been helpful to fire fighters although a number of new fires were reported in the region as a result of lightning strikes two days ago. Thunderstorm activity accompanied by isolated heavy falls of rain were also experienced at various locations yesterday.

Good news was received late yesterday following confirmation that the Cascades and Tin Mine huts have survived the fires intact.

As the bushfire threat to Bombala, Delegate and surrounding villages eases for the time being the fire fighting operation that had been established in the town to help defend the area is now being scaled down.

Paupong/Numbla Vale
Backburning continued yesteday and succeeded in achieving some secure containment in the Paupong area. There has been some aerial incendiary work on this sector. On the Numbla Vale division aerial incendiary work also continued yesterday and progressed down towards the Snowy River while remote area fire fighters continued gradually backburning westwards from the northern side of the River. It’s expected this work will continue for several more days to achieve full containment. This operation will link the fire edge into the old Slaughterhouse fire which burnt over Christmas.

Backburning has continued. The fire was being patrolled and mopped up overnight.

This fire remains in containment lines and has been quiet with crews continuing to patrol and mop up the fire. Crews worked on a few hot spots yesterday.

Kalkite/Rocky Plains
Rain in the area on Saturday was sufficient to knockout the main fire front. Waterbombing continued on this fire which authorities now believe is well controlled.

Backburning over the past 24 hours has been successful in the j-bars and Link road area and patrol and mop up will continue. The fire reported south of the Blue Cow terminal is within this containment operation.

Charlottes Pass
Crews on six wheel bikes spent yesterday mopping up smouldering spots.

A fire near the Bombala turnoff south of Nimmitabel on the Snowy Mountains Highway is now contained.

Some effort has been put in to waterbombing a section of the Jagungal area around Tin Hut and Gungarten which has not burnt but is surrounded by burnt country. Authorities felt it was important to make an effort to keep this area of Alpine and Subalpine country unburnt for the benefit of the park.

North Kosciuszko
Patrol and mop up is continuing. Aerial observation throughout yesterday did not locate any new fires caused by lightning activity. A new fire reported Friday evening in the Tantangara area has been contained to less than 6 hectares. There are no other active fires in the northern end of the park.

Victoria border area
A fire six kilometres south of the NSW border and north of the Cann River, known as the WB Line fire, is now contained. However a new fire at Mt Ellery, closer to Orbost, is not yet contained with about 1600 metres of containment line still to be constructed. The Dellicknora sector of the Bogong South fire is now contained. The Cabanandra sector is to be back burnt at a later stage.

Possible shower/thunderstorm. Cloudy periods, particularly morning, with the chance of afternoon and evening showers or thunderstorms. Light to moderate northeast to northwest winds, tending gusty at higher elevations.
Tuesday: Local afternoon thunderstorm
Wednesday: Possible afternoon shower/storm
Thursday: Mainly dry

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 139 594.

For further information contact:
Snowy Region Fire Hotline 1800 004 439
ACT Fire Information 132281
For information on Gippsland (Victoria) fires please ring the Gippsland Community Fire and Recovery information lines on 1800 668 066. The daily Gippsland Fire Information newsletter can be obtained by contacting the community information unit on 03 51722188 or 03 51722159.
Listen to Snowy Mountains 2XL, Snow FM and your local ABC radio.

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)

DSE/DPI Update
Monday February 10 2003 6.30am (Day 34)
Current Summary
· Two of the most recent lightning caused fires were contained yesterday. The largest, north-east of Cann River burnt 350 hectares of forest while a fire north-west of Bonang burnt 3 hectares. Two other fires from last Friday’s lightning were contained on Saturday (25 hectares north-west of Orbost, and one near Shelley in the north-east-15 hectares). A fire in remote country at Mt Ellery has now burnt 31 hectares and is yet to be contained.
· Early last night a storm moved from the east into far East Gippsland and around 12 mm of rain fell in Combienbar. Some lightning was associated with the storm. Aerial reconnaissance is planned for first light this morning to see whether any new fires have resulted.
· To date, the Eastern Victorian fires have burnt around 1.022 million 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.

2. 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 1.05 million hectares. The northern section of the main fire is still behind containment lines, with line construction and backburning now completed. Tracking of spot fires, south west of Mt Buffalo occurred yesterday.
· Yesterday in the Swifts Creek and Dargo areas, fire crews contained several spot fires.
· The separate fire in the north of the Snowy River National Park remains active and has now burnt an area of approximately 5, 000 hectares. Yesterday fire crews focussed on protection of assets in the Deddick Valley to the north of this fire.

3. Weather in eastern victoria
Today: Temperatures in the high 20s in Gippsland and low 30s in the NE. Winds initially north in the Alps and the far east, moving to south/SW across the fire area. Isolated afternoon showers and possible thunderstorms in the east.
Tuesday: Similar to today.

4. Resources on the Eastern Fires
· Personnel currently involved:
– Around 2000 from the Government agencies
– approximately 1, 300 CFA from outside the Region supporting local volunteer brigades
– 35 Australian Defence Force
– 25 New South Wales
– 8 Tasmanian
– 118 South Australian
– 31 New Zealand
– 35 USA

· Around 40 aircraft, over 250 specialised vehicles, at least 100 bulldozers, and a major commitment from the Gippsland based timber industry.

5. 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, local Catchment Management Authorities, the Army Reserve, the Australian Navy, local municipalities, Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board (MFB), New Zealand fire and conservation agencies, Red Cross, Rural Ambulance Victoria, South Australian Country Fire Service and Parks Service, Tasmanian Fire Service, St John Ambulance, State Forests New South Wales, State Emergency Service, Victoria Police, WICEN (Wireless Institute Civil Emergency Network) and several United States land management agencies.

6. 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 703 fires have occurred. These have burnt around 1.28 million hectares. The 20-year average for this time of year is 330 fires, having burnt over 51,749 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 Complex (South) Fires Update 10th Feb 5pm

Fire activity today has generally been very quiet, with limited backburning and consolidation of containment lines continuing in all sectors.

Reconnaissance aircraft flying to check for fires after lightning strikes in the east of the region have reported no new fires.

In the eastern sector of the fire, conditions have been mild and fire growth has been generally slow. Some places have received drizzle and light rain, which stopped backburning operations. These will recommence as conditions allow.

The Mount Ellery fire is quiet and remains around three hectares. Crews have been working on this fire today.

The WB Line fire north of Cann River is still within containment lines.

Trackwork and backburning continues on the south side of Deddick and dozer work on the Yalmy Road prior to backburning.

A containment line between Gelantipy and the Snowy River National Park is being developed and patrolling and blacking out continues to the west of Gelantipy.

The Buchan Staging Area will be decommissioned tomorrow. Firefighting units remain in Gelantipy.

Dozer work and patrolling continues in the Swifts Creek area. Spotfires are being tracked and activity is decreasing as the area is fogged in.

Gippsland Fires Update 10th Feb 1pm

Fire activity in the Dargo area has been quiet, but some successful backburns were undertaken yesterday along the Messmate Spur and on the western side of the fire to link with the north east region fires.

Low cloud and drizzle will hamper efforts to continue backburns today, but the Dane’s Creek spotfire now has a containment line right around it, which will be tidied up by handcrews today.

Swifts Creek
In the Swifts Creek area, the main fire activity has been in the Mount Stawell area and in Bindi, Cobungra and Benambra. Fires burning out onto grasslands continue to threaten private property in these areas.

Crews are concentrating on patrolling, blacking out and protection of assets.

Backburning and line construction progressed well overnight and air and ground reconnaissance work is planned to map the fire edge.

The fire north of Cann River is contained and being monitored. The Mount Ellery fire has burnt three hectares in remote, rugged country 15kms south east of Goongerah and is yet to be contained. Crews from NSW and DPI are walking in to this fire to deal with it.

A small amount of backburning is left to be done in the Tubbut/Deddick area and should be completed by tonight.
The Yalmy Road is currently being strengthened in preparation for backburning.The Buchan area is being patrolled.Evening lightning activity continues to pose potential for new 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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