NSW firefighters back burn along the Bells Line of Road in theBlue Mountains as smoke from a fire front darkens the sky. Photo: Wade Laube
Australia — Firefighters face spring fuel-reduction burns reigniting becauseof underground burning and water availability problems as Victoria enters whatis predicted to be a nightmarish bushfire season.
Four of the Department of Sustainability and Environment’s fuel-reductionburns have reignited after tree root systems and peat smouldered underground formonths without significant spring rainfall.
DSE firefighters burned 6600 hectares this spring after being criticised forburning only 49,000 hectares of the 130,000-hectare fuel-reduction target overwinter.
But DSE chief fire officer Ewan Waller said dangerously warm and dryconditions had made it impossible to meet the targets, leaving the state with aheavy fuel load.
The DSE has had to keep patrolling burnt areas and to use infra-redtechnology to locate hot spots that have kept burning below the surface.
A DSE fuel-reduction fire at Noojee, near Mount Baw Baw, reignited last month,burning 40 hectares after smouldering underground for three months. A burn-offin the Murray-Sunset National Park flared out of control two months ago, burning23,000 hectares.
Drought has also left the Country Fire Authority with water availabilityproblems in some areas as dams and streams dry up. Water will have to betransported to the driest areas in the case of fire.