GFMC: Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

19 February 2003

Bushfires Raging in Southeast Australia

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0015 UTC
Bands 1-4-3
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Bands 3-6-7
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This true-color Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer  (MODIS) image was captured by the Terra satellite on 18 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

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 Update Wednesday February 19 2003 10.00am (Day 43)

Current Summary
· The far south-western edge of the main fire (to the south of Mt Buffalo), continues to cause concern to fire crews. Spotting from areas of Alpine Ash forest to the east of the Viking-Razor Wilderness Area occurred again yesterday, and is expected to continue for a few days yet. Several spot fires in this remote country were contained yesterday, but a couple remain active.
· All fires in and around Kosciuszko National Park in NSW were deemed contained early yesterday evening. Fire crews are now engaged in ‘mop up’ and patrol and will be for several weeks. The fires have burnt a total of 465,000 ha of the park (67%) and 27,000 hectares of privately owned lands.
· Two new fires were reported yesterday in Victoria’s North East. A small fire near Tolmie was contained yesterday afternoon. Another fire, three kilometres north east of Taggerty, was contained at 40 hectares early yesterday evening.
· To date, the Eastern Victorian fires have burnt 1.10 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
· Weather conditions yesterday were ideal for backburning operations in a number of locations. Most of the work undertaken was in the Deddick Valley and Tubbut areas and at the top end of the Yalmy Road in far East Gippsland. Further backburning and consolidation of containment lines in these areas will continue today.
· Backburning around and to the south of Catherine Station in the fire’s south-west is also planned for today.
· A base camp in State forest at Surveyors Creek, north east of Licola, will be set up later today. This is to enable the strategic deployment of crews to the main fire in the Rileys Creek area, 50kms north of Licola.
· The main Eastern Victorian fire, which stretches from Mt Buffalo in the west, to the NSW border and to the Tubbut area in East Gippsland, is still active and has burnt nearly 1.08 million hectares.

Weather in the north-east and East Gippsland
Today: Fine and warm in the north (300+), cooler in the south. Winds tending NE in north-east and SE in Gippsland.
Thursday: Fine and warm to hot with winds tending N/NE. Cloud increasing.
Friday: A warm day. Patchy rain developing with possible isolated thunderstorms later.

Resources on the Eastern Fires

· Personnel currently involved:
– Around 2000 from the Government agencies
– approximately 750 CFA from outside the Region supporting local volunteer brigades
– 18 Metropolitan Fire Brigade
– 48 New South Wales
– 30 New Zealand
– 35 USA

· Around 40 aircraft, over 250 specialised vehicles, nearly 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 Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology, local municipalities, Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board (MFB), NSW State Forests, New Zealand fire and conservation agencies, The Salvation Army, Red Cross, Rural Ambulance Victoria, St John Ambulance, State Emergency Service, Victoria Police, WICEN (Wireless Institute Civil Emergency Network) and several United States land management agencies.

7. 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 720 fires have occurred. These have burnt over 1.3 million hectares. The 20-year average for this time of year is 352 fires, having burnt over 68, 200 hectares.

Source: DSE/DPI

CSA Fire Update

Gippsland Fires Update 19th February

Dargo Area

The linking of the Crooked River/Hogtown containment line has been completed. Work is now concentrated on blacking out.

There are only two kilometres to go to complete the backburn on Rileys Track and work is going well there.
Residents in the Heyfield/Licola areas may notice increased activity on the roads and in the air as DPI/DSE/PV crews set up a strategic base camp at Surveyors Creek, north east of Licola.

Fires on the Bogong North Complex fire in the Razor Track area are currently causing difficulties. Gippsland crews are supporting the Ovens IMT on these fires where possible, working from the Surveyors Creek camp.

Swifts Creek Area

Incident controller Ben Rankin said that work in the last few days has been positive and productive. All backburning and control lines have held, particularly in the Mount
Stawell and Butchers Creek areas and at Mount Delusion. All burns here have been completed and work is now concentratated on filling in.

Orbost Area

Incident Controller Dennis Matthews said that work is going well around the Cabanandara and Tubbut Valley areas. Good work has been done around the Wilmott Pines and The Farm areas.
Construction of the Yalmy Road containment line continues – the Roger sector is due for completion today.
There will still be a lot of smoke around as backburns continue to protect communities here.

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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