Australia — Large plumes of smoke have been visible from Port Lincoln since last Thursday.
This is the result of prescribed burns taking place in Memory Cove Wilderness Area, about 20 kilometres south of Port Lincoln, and Kulliparu Conservation Park, 35kms east of Venus Bay.
The purpose of both prescribed burns was to reduce fuel loads.
“The burns went well, we met all objectives,” Joe Tilley, Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH) fire management officer for the West Region said.
“We had a 300 hectare burn planned, which we exceeded a little, but it was a good result.
“We have established a break between the coast and Memory Cove to prevent bushfires running north and south.”
The prescribed burn was conducted under a westerly wind, which posed no threat to campers who remained at Memory Cove.
More prescribed burns are planned for the next few weeks with large plumes of smoke again expected.
“Imagine the smoke generated from a campfire and times it by a thousand, it can look impressive but the public needs to know it’s all in controlled situations,” Mr Tilley said.
“The risks (of prescribed burns) are relatively small compared to the possible consequences of a major bushfire occurring during the summer.
“We always ensure that appropriate back-up resources and fall-back positions are available in the event a prescribed burn crosses containment lines,” he said.
Water bombers were seen on Sunday, which is standard procedure when prescribed burns are undertaken in areas that are difficult to access by fire trucks, like at Memory Cove, according to Kevin May, Regional Commander for CFS.
Devastating bushfires, like those seen in Victoria in February, could happen in our State, according to the chief executive of the Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH), Allan Holmes.
“Many people wonder if bushfires as devastating as those we saw in Victoria in February could happen here, and the simple answer is yes,” he said.
In response, the number of prescribed burns in our national parks and reserves during autumn this year will double.
A total of 66 burns, encompassing almost 20,000 hectares, are now planned for land managed by the DEH across South Australia.
Prescribed burns scheduled for Eyre Peninsula include areas in the Lincoln Basin, Coffin Bay National Park and around the centre of Eyre Peninsula.
“Prescribed burns are an essential part of DEH strategy of working with the CFS to reduce the impact of bushfires on public land,” said Joe Tilley, DEH Fire Management Officer for the West Region.
“The recent Victorian bushfires were a reminder of how vigilant we must be to reduce the risks and impacts of bushfires to life, property and the environment,” said Mr Holmes.
He said the burning program has been sped up to provide greater protection.
“Fire is a natural part of the South Australian landscape, and even the best fire prevention activities and suppression capabilities cannot stop bushfires from occurring and spreading under extreme conditions.
“However, there is conclusive evidence both nationally and internationally that prescribed burning lessens the impact bushfires would otherwise have on assets and the community,” Mr Holmes said.
In 2007/08, DEH undertook 39 prescribed burns and attended 67 bushfires across the State.
Private landholders are again reminded to be responsible for reducing their properties’ vulnerability to bushfires.