Climate change ‘will move Vic fire season’


Climate change ‘will move Vic fire season’

11 April 2013

published by www.theaustralian.com.au


Australia — VICTORIA’S worst bushfire season since Black Saturday could be a sign that climate change has shifted traditional danger periods, the state’s top firefighter says.

The state suffered 24 significant fires which burned more than 190,000 hectares across the 2012-13 fire season, resulting in the loss of 46 homes.

Five Victorians, including a firefighter on secondment in Tasmania, died.

Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said the most recent fire season had lasted longer because of prolonged warm weather and a lack of rain.

He said such seasons could now be commonplace.

“If you understand climate change we will see a change in the way in which the seasons operate,” Mr Lapsley told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday.

“I think this is one of those telling points.

“We have seen summer move into autumn. We’ve seen prolonged periods of high temperature with almost a heatwave in early March.”

Mr Lapsley said the recent season was the state’s worst since 2009, when the Black Saturday fires claimed 173 lives and more than 2000 homes.

He said a grassfire at Donnybrook, on the city’s northern fringe, had underlined the importance of alerting urban residents about fires.

“We’ve got to tailor our information a little bit better,” Mr Lapsley said.

“We need better information for the school network.

“We also need to describe the path of the fire and the impact of smoke on the metropolitan area.”

The January 18 bushfire which roared through the town of Seaton early in the morning could also be a warning of changing fire behaviour, Mr Lapsley said.

He said the FireReady mobile phone application would be completely rebuilt after failing to perform this summer.

The application and CFA website both crashed under unprecedented demand in early January and needed additional resources to increase their capacity.

Mr Lapsley said while the website was now functioning well, FireReady was inadequate.

“We tolerated where we were over the fire season, but the FireReady app did not perform in the way in which we would have expected it,” he said.

The redesigned app would include storm and flood warnings, Mr Lapsley said.
 


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