Fire authorities are warning of extreme fire danger tomorrow for northern Victoria and east Gippsland with high temperatures and strong winds forecast. Department for Sustainability and the Environment state duty officer Dennis Ward says it is important people travelling anywhere over the Christmas period stay informed and alert. “We are asking all Victorians to be aware of the safety issues and include any holidays or travel in their bushfire survival plans,” Mr Ward said. “This means planning ahead, checking on conditions, tuning in to the emergency broadcasters and seeking out information before visiting.” Senior forecaster Phil King at the Bureau of Meteorology says temperatures today hit 40 degrees in Victoria’s west, and the hot weather front is moving slowly across the state. “We can expect temperatures in the high 30s tomorrow, but there will be a change late in the day bringing a little rain with it,” Mr King said.
At least nine houses were destroyed and residents were forced to “flee for their lives” as a bushfire raged towards Port Lincoln on South Australia’s Lower Eyre Peninsula today. Firefighters contained the blaze this afternoon, but not before it destroyed 500 hectares of scrub and grassland and the State Emergency Services headquarters. The Country Fire Service (CFS) said it was also starting to contain another bushfire burning near Kingston in the state’s lower south-east. Weather conditions are improving around Port Lincoln. The temperature has dropped and the wind is easing. The Port Lincoln fire is near Kurara, New West and Robertson Roads and Hilltop Drive and is travelling east. People in this area are being advised to shelter indoors immediately and stay off the roads. People should not attempt to leave or enter this area as the roads will not be safe. Port Lincoln Mayor Peter Davis said there had been no reports of deaths but he was concerned. “I shouldn’t be surprised if there’s been loss of life, particularly when it ignited … that was an explosive situation around three or four hours ago,” he said. Mr Davis said there had been significant property loss but conditions had eased. “Clearly there are still hotspots but because the wind speed is below 10 knots it’s moderated enormously,” he said.
‘Fleeing for our lives’
At the height of the drama, residents fled Port Lincoln as thick smoke blanketed much of the town. Port Lincoln resident Ray said he thought his house was among those destroyed. “I was probably driving out my driveway with flames above the roof of the house at the backdoor,” he said. “I’d just like to say to people who are out there on the roads and blocking the roads, people like me are fleeing for our lives you know.” About 4,000 homes in the area are still without power. Port Lincoln resident Michael Sleep, who sent photos of the blaze to ABC Online, said the situation in town had been “pretty scary”. “Wind changed direction and there was smoke everywhere with ash blowing in. Had to get on the roof and block and fill the gutters,” he said. CFS spokeswoman Hayley Cahalan said 150 firefighters and 30 fire trucks were used to contain the blaze, as well as water bombing aircraft.
Ms Cahalan said fire crews would be back-burning through the night at Kingston to bring the fire there under control. She said smoke would make travelling in the area dangerous. Belinda Gibson from the weather bureau said the temperature had eased to about 33 degrees in Port Lincoln. She said conditions should continue to ease overnight. “Now that the change has come through Port Lincoln has cooled down. Down at Kingston I imagine it’s probably cooled down a little bit,” she said. “The winds should start to be easing back through the evening, increasing humidity and lowering the temperature.” Rob Sandford from the CFS said sightseers had been a problem in bushfire zones through the day. “Our message all day today has been for people not to enter the area and not try and leave the area where these fires are because it is just too dangerous,” he said. “They are putting themselves and the emergency services and the rest of the community at risk.” More than half of South Australia’s 15 fire ban districts have been subject to catastrophic fire danger ratings today, due to hot and windy weather.
Victoria warned of extreme fire weather tomorrow as South Australia battles ‘extremely dangerous’ fires
Authorities have warned of extreme fire weather in Victoria tomorrow as blazes destroy homes and cut off power in South Australia.An extreme fire danger has been issued for northern Victoria and east Gippsland tomorrow with high temperatures and strong winds forecast.Department for Sustainability and the Environment state duty officer Dennis Ward says it is important people travelling anywhere over the Christmas period stay informed and alert.”We are asking all Victorians to be aware of the safety issues and include any holidays or travel in their bushfire survival plans,” Mr Ward said.”This means planning ahead, checking on conditions, tuning in to the emergency broadcasters and seeking out information before visiting.”Senior forecaster Phil King at the Bureau of Meteorology says today’s temperatures hit 40 degrees in Victoria’s west, and the hot weather front is moving slowly across the state.”We can expect temperatures in the high 30s tomorrow, but there will be a change late in the day bringing a little rain with it,” Mr King said.In SA, an “extremely dangerous” fire has destroyed at least one house on the outskirts of Port Lincoln and has cut power across the city, plunging it into chaos, AdelaideNow reports.The fire has burnt through main electricity lines, blacking out at least 6000 properties. It has also destroyed a shed and damaged the Port Lincoln SES headquarters.It began burning west of Winter’s Hill, about 3km north of Port Lincoln at 1pm and is currently 2km from the city centre.The CFS has issued a warning that the fire is “extremely dangerous” and burning out of control.There are unconfirmed reports that several homes have been lost while roads near the fire are bottle-necked with people trying to flee its path. The fire comes after a teenage boy was arrested on charges of causing a fire at Winter Hill which killed a pregnant horse and burnt through 40 hectares last Saturday night.The 17-year-old boy was charged with firing off a flare and causing a fire. He has been bailed to appear before the next sitting of the Port Lincoln youth court.Eight of 15 SA fire districts were declared at “catastrophic risk” today and residents of at least 18 suburbs and hamlets warned to leave if they want to survive.Fire bans were issued for the entire state and several popular towns in the Adelaide Hills have been left off a list of safe areas to shelter, effectively branding them death zones, The Australian reports.Country Fire Service chief officer Euan Ferguson told people in areas not listed as safe to leave early.”Our advice is if you’re to maximise your chances of survival, then you should plan to relocate,” he said, advising that any fire not tackled immediately could prove uncontrollable. This is not a fake warning. In all of South Australia conditions will be such that if a fire escapes our initial attack, then that fire will develop into a very large fire very quickly.”Mr Ferguson said he expected debate about the list of safe areas, which leaves off key towns such as Blackwood, Hahndorf, Stirling and Bridgewater.Tropical Cyclone Laurence has been blamed for bringing strong northerly winds that will bring winds of up to 65km/h in SA, with temperatures tipped to hit 42C in Adelaide.The cyclone yesterday left a trail of destruction in West Australia, as it battered the state with winds of up to 285km/h.Catastrophic warnings were issued for SAs mid-north, upper southeast, eastern Eyre Peninsula, lower Eyre Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula, Murraylands, Flinders and West Coast districts.
WA path of destruction
Meanwhile, communities in Western Australia are counting the cost of destructive Cyclone Laurence.The category five cyclone slammed into the Kimberley coast about 5pm yesterday, flattening buildings as it swept inland.The storm packed wind gusts of up to 285km/h and dumped almost 250mm of rain.Staff from the Sandfire Roadhouse, 290kms north of Port Hedland, huddled into a house while the cyclone crossed the coast.It was just howling wind. Everything was moving and there was a constant sucking in and out because of the pressure.This morning, more than 30 regional SES volunteers and seven from metropolitan units have been mobilised to help people hit by the storm.Strong winds and heavy rain caused significant damage to buildings across the state but no injuries were reported. But many farmers reported loss of stock, the Fire and Emergency Services Authority said today.Cyclone Warning Centre spokeswoman Caroline Crow said the storm would continue in a path away from the coast and was expected to weaken to category one over the next 24 hours.
At least five homes and an emergency centre were destroyed, businesses threatened and people fled Port Lincoln on Eyre Peninsula on Wednesday as a bushfire raged towards the town.It was the second time within a year that homes and other properties were lost in the area.The Country Fire Service (CFS) warned the blaze was still burning strongly but expected fire crews and aerial water bombers would bring it under control overnight.A second major fire continued to burn in the state’s southeast but firefighters said the threat had reduced and a backburning operation would have it further contained.The fires came as SA sweltered through its worst fire risk day of the summer with eight districts declared at catastrophic risk.On Eyre Peninsula the fire broke out near a quarry on the western outskirts of Port Lincoln.Fanned by strong winds and soaring temperatures, it quickly destroyed more than 500 hectares of scrub and grassland.The CFS said that at least five homes were confirmed lost along with sheds and other buildings – and the local headquarters for the State Emergency Service.But there were unconfirmed reports of many more houses in flames as well as a number of business premises.At the height of the drama, hundreds of people were reported to be fleeing Port Lincoln by car as thick smoke blanketed much of the town.The smoke was also thought responsible for tripping an electrical sub-station, blacking out several thousand homes and other properties.About 140 firefighters on the ground at Port Lincoln were being supported by several water bombing helicopters and planes.In January this year, a similar fire destroyed several homes and two major tuna fishing operations at Port Lincoln.While in January 2005, the Wangary bushfires, northwest of the town claimed nine lives, burnt more than 77,000 hectares of mainly agricultural land, and destroyed 93 homes and 46,000 head of stock.In SA’s southeast, the CFS said the blaze near Ninga Ninga had destroyed about 1500ha of scrub and grassland with 80 firefighters in the area supported by fire bombing aircraft.At one stage, three farms were threatened but the CFS said moderating weather conditions had helped crews halt the fire’s spread and get the upper hand.The blaze was thought to have started from a lightning strike.The Bureau of Meteorology said cooler conditions would prevail across South Australia on Thursday after the arrival of a southerly change with some rain.
Fires near Perth, Western Australia
A bushfire considered suspicious by the Fires and Emergency Services Authority of Western Australia was reported on Sunday, 13 December 2009, in state forest near Dwellingup, Western Australia. When the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASAs Terra satellite captured this view on 15 December, the fire was billowing a thick plume of smoke to the north. The fire was in a remote area and wasnt threatening private property; however, its behavior was described as erratic due to heavy fuel loads.
The large image provided above is at MODIS maximum spatial resolution (level of detail), which is 250 meters per pixel. Twice-daily images of southern Western Australia are available from the MODIS Rapid Response Team in additional resolutions and formats, including a false-color version that highlights the location of burn scars.