GFMC: Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

11 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 10 February 2003.

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This true-color ModerateResolution Imaging Spectroradiometer  (MODIS) image was capturedby the Terra satellite on 11 February 2003.

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This true-color ModerateResolution Imaging Spectroradiometer  (MODIS) image was captured by the Aqua satellite on 11 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:

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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)


Total Fire Bans, Wednesday, 12 February 2003

The Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service has declared a Total Fire Ban in the following Weather Forecast Districts:

South West Slopes

The weather forecast for this area is very high temperature, low humidity and moderate to strong winds. These conditions are conducive to fire activity and the community is urged to take particular care. Fire danger in this area will be extreme or approaching extreme.

The Total Fire Ban will become effective for the 24 hours from MIDNIGHT TONIGHT, Tuesday, 11 February, 2003 until MIDNIGHT Wednesday, 12 February 2002.
During a Total Fire Ban no fire of any kind may be lit in the open. This includes incinerators and barbecues, which burn solid fuel, e.g. wood or charcoal.
You may use a gas or electric barbecue, but only if…

· It is on residential property within 20m of the house or dwelling;
· It is under the direct control of a responsible adult;
· The ground around the barbecue is cleared for 3m of all material which could burn;
· You have a continuous supply of running water.

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 Tuesday February 11 2003 6.30am (Day 35)

Current Summary

· Yesterday afternoon a separate fire burning in the north of the Snowy River National Park was overtaken by the main Eastern Victorian fire.
· Across the north of the fire area containment lines continue to be strengthened. Across much of the south work continues on preparing for extensive backburning which will get underway as conditions allow. The backburning is designed to bring the main fire safely out to containment lines.
· Conditions across the fire area last night were cool, with considerable low cloud.
· There are currently no further immediate threats to private property, although crews continue to focus on asset protection in the Deddick Valley.
· Planning has now been underway for several days in relation to soil stabilisation, and related work on previous containment lines. Work should get underway as heavy machinery is released from the fire suppression effort.
· To date, the Eastern Victorian fires have burnt around 1.07 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.

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 1.03 million hectares. The northern section of the main fire remains contained. High humidity and light drizzle early yesterday restricted backburning in some areas along the south-eastern edge of the fire.

· A lightning caused fire that started in remote country last Friday near Mt Ellery (near Goongerah) has so far burnt an area of 3 hectares. Crews will continue to work on this fire today.

Weather in Eastern Victoria

Today: Temperatures in the mid 20s in Gippsland and mid 30s in the NE. Mild winds, south/SW across the fire area. Isolated afternoon showers and possible thunderstorms in the far east.

Wednesday: Warmer, but with isolated afternoon showers and possible thunderstorms later in the day.

Beyond: Warm to hot by the weekend.
Resources on the Eastern Fires

· Personnel currently involved:
– Around 2000 from the Government agencies
– approximately 900 CFA from outside the Region supporting local volunteer brigades
– 40 Australian Defence Force
– 25 New South Wales
– 8 Tasmanian
– 118 South Australian
– 30 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.

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, 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.

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 nearly 11, 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.
· 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 704 fires have occurred. These have burnt around 1.30 million hectares. The 20-year average for this time of year is 331 fires, having burnt over 51,768 hectares.

Source: DSE/DPI

CSA Fire Update

Lethbridge Fire update 11th Feb 5.45pm

CFA are in attendance at a fire in Lethbridge, north of Teesdale.

CFA are currently in attendance at a fire in Lethbridge, north of Teesdale. Residents in the area may see smoke but should note that no private property is at threat, nor is it likely to be.

The fire is burning in rough terrain, making access difficult, however only one sector of the fire is not yet contained and this is being allowed to burn slowly towards a rock wall where full containment will be possible.There are currently two helitaks, one firebird and more than 30 trucks on scene.This fire is under investigation.

Gippsland Community Update 11 February 2:00pm

Information for the local community and visitors to Gippsland and the North-East about going fires and the control measures being used in Gippsland.

Dargo Incident Control Fires

Overnight activity was quiet, with light rain and mist preventing many planned backburning operations. Linkages with the north east fires are getting closer, with crews hoping to be able to burn and close the gap today.

Swifts Creek Incident Control Fires

A similar story in this area, with backburning hindered by the weather conditions. A lot of work is being done on strategic planning, with six core areas identified for burning: Butchers Creek, Power of Delusion, Mount Stawell, Phipps Creek, Brookeville and Nunniong.

These places have been identified as key areas for asset protection should the winds and weather pick up and cause problems again.

Resources will be aggregated to carry out these burns, but will be immediately deployed back to asset protection if necessary.

Orbost Incident Control Fires

There have been no major changes in fire activity overnight.

The fire on the WB Line north of Cann River remains contained and is being monitored.

There is still some backburning to be done around the Deddick area.

The Mount Ellery fire is being monitored from the air to assess the situation. New ground crews are on their way to this fire, but it has not increased in size.

Bogong Complex (South) Fires Update 11th Feb 8am

There have been no major changes in fire activity overnight and crews have been concentrating on blacking out and patrol work in the central sector, dozer lines in the west and containment lines in preparation for backburning in the east.

Backburning operations in all three sectors of the Bogong (south) Complex of fires have been hindered by damp weather conditions.

The WB Line fire north of Cann River remains contained and reconnaissance aircraft will fly as soon as the cloud lifts to check on the status of the Mount Ellery fire and provide intelligence on any 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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