WA faces worst fire season on record

WA faces worst fire season on record

15 November 2006

published by www.thewest.com.au

Western Australia — WA fire authorities are predicting this summer will bethe worst bush fire season on record, with abnormally dry conditions and heavyfuel loads having the potential to cause a disastrous blaze.

Fire & Emergency Services Authority spokesman Mike Klenner said todaythat heavy, late spring rainfall had delayed back-burning this year.

Mr Klenner said if a fire started on a day with high temperatures and windconditions to fuel the blaze, it could quickly get out of control.

“The late spring rains has promoted growth in the bush and when thatgreen vegetation drys out we will have a relatively high fuel load,” hesaid.

“So, once the weather gets hotter it will pose quite a fire risk andwill burn well.”

Premier Alan Carpenter announced this morning another $5.5 million to boostthe State’s firefighting equipment.

In addition to the extra funding, fire authorities will use for the firsttime have state-of-the-art air intelligence equipment. The new system providesreal-time fire mapping, infra red equipment and can relay information directlyto an incident management team on the ground.

Other equipment includes, more heavy earth moving machinery, two new firetankers and a trailer to provide logistical support for 100 firefighters.

As WA faces its worst fire season, fire fighters are battling two largebushfires in the Blue Mountains West of Sydney.

More than 150 firefighters are working to contain the fires. Six aircraft arealso water bombing the area.

Rural Fire Services spokeswoman Rebel Talbot said the fires were believed tohave been started by lightning strikes on Monday and fanned by winds.

“We’ve got some really erratic fire conditions, very strong winds, thatare coming through the area,” she said.

“Temperatures aren’t high, between 10 and 13 degrees, but last night wesaw some of the erratic behaviour when one of the fires crowned up and thenliterally jumped from ridge top into the next valley.”No homes werecurrently under threat and no property damage has been reported.

But while NSW fire fighters battling bush fires, further south Victoria andTasmania were experiencing a snap freeze.

Snow has been falling in several parts of Victoria as a chilling blast ofAntarctic air whips into the state.

It has fallen in the Alpine region in the State’s north-east and theDandenong Ranges on Melbourne’s edge.

In Tasmania, Hobart is set for a near record cold day as an unseasonable coldsnap inflicted snow, hail and freezing conditions across Tasmania.

Up to 20cm of snow was reported at Miena in Tasmania’s Great Lake region thismorning and snow has settled down to the 350-metre level at Tea Tree, north ofHobart.

A predicted low dumping over Hobart’s Mount Wellington has failed toeventuate but meteorologist Ray Evans said conditions would become moreconducive to snow later this afternoon.

The capital is on track for one of its coldest November days, withtemperatures hovering just below 10C for only the fourth time since recordsstarted.

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