Students at scaddan’s lucky primary school well drilled ahead of tough wa bushfire season

Students at scaddan’s lucky primary school well drilled ahead of tough wa bushfire season

25 October 2016

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Australia —   The principal of the primary school that escaped undamaged from last year’s Esperance Bushfires says staff and students have been well drilled ahead of a predicted high-risk fire season.

Scaddan, around 50km north of Esperance, bore the brunt of the fires which killed four people on November 17.

While the bulk of the town was destroyed when the fire front jumped the highway, Scaddan Primary School was left completely undamaged.

Principal Reece Smith said the fact the school was left standing at all was incredible.

“The town hall burned down, which is right outside my office window,” Mr Smith said.

“Then it’s almost done a big ring around the school and kept going through the farmland further east.”

School’s emergency status upgraded after fires

Students and staff have not been sitting idle since the school re-opened last December, with clean-up efforts continuing well into 2016.

A volunteer effort has seen the fire-damaged areas surrounding the school cleared, with the further removal of dry grass and other potential fuel a key focus.

Firebreaks are also being cleared around the school before the emergency season officially begins.

“We are now a category one school on the bushfire zone register, which means we can now close pre-emptively if the fire conditions are catastrophic,” Mr Smith said.

“As part of that, we do have to have a standalone bushfire plan, which we’ve worked on with our local bushfire brigade and DFES as well.”

The “no notice fire” plan, released to parents last week, will see staff evacuate students to the school’s junior room and covers everything from securing water to closing up the school.

“The teachers have spent a few weeks going through it with the kids – we have practice drills scheduled for the next few weeks,” Mr Smith said.

“In the event we have to remain at school, we are set up to be as safe as possible.”

Fires leaving a significant legacy across South East WA

While Mr Smith only arrived at Scaddan this year, he previously taught at nearby Cascade Primary School; close to where the most catastrophic of the fires started.

With temperatures soaring to 45 degrees Celsius and winds blowing at gale force, the fire conditions have been labelled some of the worst ever faced in WA.

“The whole day had a bit of an eerie orange glow about it, the winds weren’t that favourable,” Mr Smith said.

“We were not informed if Scaddan had even made it through — our first report was that the school had burned down.”

He said the key challenge in an emergency situation for any teacher was reassuring frightened children.

“We could see the smoke from the school site, so our main job was to make sure the students felt safe and secure where they were,” Mr Smith said.

Community events are due to be held in Scaddan, Grass Patch and Esperance in coming weeks to mark the anniversary of the fires.

Winters have started approaching the northern region of India that also includes Delhi-NCR along with Punjab and Haryana. Due to this, minimums have also started dropping in many parts of North India including Delhi and NCR. In fact, as per the temperatures recorded on October 15 and October 17, the minimums ofDelhi and NCR went down to 17°C.

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As per experts, an increase in the pollution level normally occurs during the winter months. However, there are a few reasons that could enhance the pollution level in Delhi and the adjoining areas. The very first reason that can be attributed to an increase in pollution level in the national capital is crop fires in the neighboring state ofHaryana andPunjab.

These two states lie in northwest proximity of Delhi and normal pattern of winds during this season is northwesterly. These winds drag the smoke and fine particles of the burnt crop and mix them with Delhi’s atmosphere. Moreover, the temperatures also start dipping, therefore, the air near the earth’s surface tends to condense leading to formation of haze.

Whenever the winds are light or calm, these air pollutants get mixed with the haze or mist and forms a blanket of smoke haze which remains suspended for few hours in the mornings. Thereafter, the haze disappears as the sun rises and temperatures increases during the day.


But as the winter progresses in the month of December and January, the duration of haze, mist or fog gets extended and these pollutants remain suspended in the atmosphere for longer duration of time. Other factors including the smoke emitting from vehicles and factories and dust from construction sites also add to the rising pollution levels.

Sometimes this situation can continue for day’s altogether. However, relief is expected only when a strong Western Disturbance gives rain over the region. It is then that these pollutants settle down for a few days.

Another criterion which reduces the pollution levels is the strong and moderate dry winds from northwest or west which carry away these pollution particles. In a nutshell, it can be said that in October, intensity and duration of pollution remain less though increases in November as winters sets in.

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