GFMC: Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

Bush and Forest Fires in Australia

11 March 2003

Latest Satellite Image: 

click to enlarge (140 KB)

Bushfires Raging in Southeast Australia
This pair of true- and false-color images from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite on 06 March  2003, shows the enormous burn scars left behind by the past two months’ devastating bushfires in southeast Australia. In the true-color image on the left, healthy vegetation appears deep green and burned areas are subtly browner. In the false-color image on the right, the burned areas are more obvious—bright reddish brown against green vegetation. Red dots mark the location of active fires. The high-resolution image provided above is 500 meters per pixel. The MODIS Rapid Response System provides this image at MODIS’ maximum spatial resolution of 250 meters.

Source: NASA/ EO



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)


DSE/DPI  Final Update  Friday 07 March  2003 5pm (Day 59)

Current Summary

· The largest bushfire to occur in Victoria in 60 years was this afternoon declared contained when works in far East Gippsland were completed. Until good rains fall across the fire however, considerable monitoring and patrol work will continue.
· This fire, which stretches from Mt Buffalo in the west, to the NSW border and to the Tubbut area in East Gippsland, has burnt nearly 1.09 million hectares.
· The Eastern Victorian fires have burnt around 1.12 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.

Weather in the north-east and East Gippsland
Today: A warm and mainly sunny day (low 30s in the north, high 20s in the south) with a light northwest to northeasterly wind. Fine apart from morning fog patches.
Beyond: Cool to mild. Possible showers through to Sunday. Mild to warm in the north.

Resources on the Eastern Fires
· Personnel currently involved:
· Around 200 from the Government agencies committed, with about 150 personnel currently working on the fire.
· Twenty-eight aircraft available statewide (4 currently deployed to the fire) and around 30 specialised vehicles.

At its peak:
· Over 1700 CFA volunteers
· 3350 DSE/DPI/PV staff & firefighters
· 120 Army/Navy personnel
· 120 SES staff & volunteers
· Metropolitan Fire Brigade staff
· 584 SA personnel
· 31 Tasmanians
· 68 QLD personnel
· 62 New Zealanders
· 35 US personnel
· a large number of volunteers in support roles
· 350 specialised 4WD (slip-ons)
· 81 4WD Fire Tankers
· 31 First Attack dozers
· Around 80 large bulldozers from DSE, the timber industry and the private sector
· 6 reconnaissance-type aircraft
· 8 light helicopters
· 10 fixed-wing aircraft
· 6 fire bombing helicopters
· 2 infra-red mapping aircraft
· 2 Erikson Aircranes
· Over a dozen crew transport aircraft

Agencies involved
The Department of Sustainability and Environment, Department of Primary Industries, Parks Victoria, the Country Fire Authority, the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology, local municipalities, The Salvation Army, Red Cross, Rural Ambulance Victoria, St John Ambulance, State Emergency Service and Victoria Police.

At its peak:
Alpine Shire Council
Army Reserve
Australian Navy
Australian Red Cross
Country Fire Authority
Department of Human Services Victoria Emergency Management
Department of Primary Industries
Department of Sustainability and Environment
East Gippsland Shire Council
Hancocks Plantations
Indigo Shire Council
Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board
National Rural Fire Authority (NZ)
NSW Rural Fire Service
NSW State Forests.
Parks Victoria
QLD Fire and Rescue Service
QLD Rural Fire Service
Red Cross
Rural Ambulance Victoria
Salvation Army
South Australian Country Fire Service
South Australian Parks & Wildlife Service
St John’s Ambulance
State Emergency Service
Tasmanian Fire Service
Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Sevice
Towong Shire Council
USA Department of Agriculture – Forests Service
USA Department of Interior – Bureaus of Land Management, Indian Affairs, National Parks Service, Fish & Wildlife Service
Victoria Police
Wangaratta Rural City Council
WICEN (Wireless Institute Civil Emergency Network)
Wodonga Rural City Council

Damage 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, 41 houses, over 200 other buildings, 3000km of fencing and 11,000 head of stock.
· 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 (9am – 5.30pm).

Community Information
· To date 90 community meetings have been conducted in the North East and Gippsland, with around 8,700 people attending.
· Farmers affected by fire continue to be invited to two-hour on-farm information sessions to address key issues that will influence farm recovery from the fires. Local communities will be informed when and where the next meeting will occur. Topics will include feeding livestock, farmer’s experience in recovery after fire and pasture recovery from the fire. For details please call Department of Primary Industries, Bairnsdale on (03) 5152 0600.
· Two fire recovery meetings were held yesterday in Lucyvale & Walwa. The next meeting, organised by the Towong and Alpine Shires, will be held on Saturday March 15 in Corryong at 4pm.

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 746 fires have occurred. These have burnt over 1.34 million hectares. The 20-year average for this time of year is 396 fires, having burnt 80, 263 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

    Source: DSE/DPI


    GFMC Note
    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

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