Bushfire season starting early in 2019

Despite the heavy, and in some places damaging, rain now falling on parts of the Australian east coast, the bushfire season rolls on with danger to life and property. This from today, 19 Jan 20:

'Residents in the townships of Pastoria and Pipers Creek, near Kyneton, north of Melbourne have been told it is too late to leave as a large bushfire burns out of control. An emergency warning was also issued for the nearby communities of Lancefield and Newham about 9.30pm on Sunday, but it was downgraded to an advice warning at 10.45pm.'

 
Looks like the brief respite is about to end. Hopefully some of the RFS got a bit of down time to recover.

'NSW fire crews are bracing for the return of severe fire conditions with hot and windy weather forecast across much of the state. Although fire grounds across the state have received rainfall in the past week, the NSW Rural Fire Service has warned forecast high temperatures and winds could see fire activity increase on Thursday.

'Temperatures are expected to reach 40C in Nowra on the south coast, 43C in Penrith in western Sydney, 41C in Cessnock in the Hunter Region and 42C in Bulahdelah on the mid-north coast. NSW RFS spokesman Ben Shepherd said low humidity and very strong north-westerly winds have crews bracing for a potentially dangerous day. “There is a broad area of severe and very high fire danger and areas of extreme fire danger,” Mr Shepherd told AAP on Wednesday.'


 
More bad news. RIP to the crew. I think this was the first fixed-wing aircraft lost this season, but there have also been at least 2 helicopters crashed in recent weeks while fire fighting.

'NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has confirmed that three people have died after an RFS air tanker crashed while fighting fires in the Snowy Mountains. "Our thoughts and prayers and heartfelt condolences go to their families," she said. "It was a company contracted by the RFS to undertake that vital work and, again, our deepest condolences to those families who have been impacted. "It demonstrates the dangerous work currently being undertaken and it also demonstrates the conditions that our firefighters are working under." The large C-130 aircraft is understood to have crashed around 1.45pm near Peak View while conducting water bombing on large fires in the area.'


Picture: RFS via AP


E2A;

'The plane, known as Zeus, was owned and operated by Canada-based company Coulson Aviation and contracted to the RFS. The company’s owners are travelling to Australia and are expected to arrive in the next 24 hours.

“The aircraft had departed Richmond with a load of retardant and was on a firebombing mission,” the company said in a statement. “The accident is reported to be extensive and we are deeply saddened to confirm there were three fatalities.”

'Authorities said the names of the victims wouldn’t be released until their families had been informed. All three were US firefighters.'
 
Last edited:
Brave men all, and fellow servicemen too. RIP.

'The bodies of three US firefighters who died when their air tanker smashed into the ground in southern NSW have been retrieved from the crash site before their families arrive in Sydney on the weekend. The families of captain Ian McBeth, first officer Paul Clyde Hudson and flight engineer Rick DeMorgan Jr will be able to visit the “complicated” crash site northeast of Cooma if they wish to. “The bodies have now been recovered from the site,” a NSW Police spokeswoman told AAP on Friday night. New South Wales forensic officers and a coronial van depart the crash site on January 24, 2020 in Peak View, Australia.

'Capt McBeth, 44, is survived by his wife Bowdie and three children in Montana where he was a member of the Air National Guard. The plane’s owners, Canadian company Coulson Aviation, said he was a highly qualified and respected C-130 pilot with years of firefighting experience in the military and with Coulson. “Ian’s love for his wife and children was evident for anyone who spent time around him,” Coulson said in a statement. His fellow crewmen were also highly experienced military airmen. Mr Hudson, 42, spent 20 years as a US Marine, flying C-130s and receiving many decorations as he reached the rank of lieutenant-colonel and is survived by his wife Noreen. Father-of-two Mr DeMorgan, 43, spent 18 years in the US Air Force as a flight engineer on C-130s with extensive combat experience. “Rick’s passion was always flying and his children,” Coulson said.

'NSW Police Superintendent Paul Condon said it was obvious the C-130 Hercules water tanker had “impacted heavily” at Peak View on Thursday afternoon and there’s “not much intact at all”. The plane crashed just after it had dropped fire retardant along a ridge, Australian Transport Safety Bureau chief commissioner Greg Hood said on Friday, adding the kilometre-long crash site was “complicated” because it was in an active bushfire area.'


 
Well, this is likely to run and run! Wilderness Society and 'plantation timber'? It's not as if bushfire-affected communities need to generate (or benefit from) additional income and investment.

'Victoria’s devastating bushfires have reignited the state’s bitter forest wars with environmental groups urging the Andrews government to step in and stop the planned "salvage logging" of burnt native forest.

'The logging industry wants state and federal government support to "salvage" millions of tonnes of plantation and native timber from the charred bushfire zones of NSW and Victoria. But the backlash from environmentalists is already under way, with conservationists lobbying the state government to stop to any salvage logging in native forests before it has begun. The Wilderness Society says the woodland is vital habitat for native species and must be allowed to regenerate naturally.'


 
Well, this is likely to run and run! Wilderness Society and 'plantation timber'? It's not as if bushfire-affected communities need to generate (or benefit from) additional income and investment.

'Victoria’s devastating bushfires have reignited the state’s bitter forest wars with environmental groups urging the Andrews government to step in and stop the planned "salvage logging" of burnt native forest.

'The logging industry wants state and federal government support to "salvage" millions of tonnes of plantation and native timber from the charred bushfire zones of NSW and Victoria. But the backlash from environmentalists is already under way, with conservationists lobbying the state government to stop to any salvage logging in native forests before it has begun. The Wilderness Society says the woodland is vital habitat for native species and must be allowed to regenerate naturally.'


Amazing. But as they used to say, the only true wilderness is between a greenie's ears.
 
It's still a long way to April and the 'traditional' end of the bushfire season.

'A recent respite for Australian firefighters that brought rains and cooler weather is set to end, meteorologists warned on Monday, with hot conditions forecast for later this week raising a risk that blazes may start spreading again.

'Australia experiences regular bushfires over summer, but this season’s fires began early and have claimed 33 lives in the past four months, killed millions of animals and charred an area nearly the size of Greece. More than a week of solid rain in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, the three states most affected by the fires, has more than halved the number of blazes, but above average temperatures were set to return by the weekend. “Unfortunately, the reprieve may be short-lived with a blast of heat likely late this week in some areas,” the New South Wales Bureau of Meteorology said on Twitter.'


 
I wonder if the bushwalker needs a thorough talking to by the authorities?

'A 1000-hectare blaze burning to Canberra's south in Namadgi National Park is at "watch and act" level with people nearby told to consult their bushfire plans. Emergency services on Monday confirmed they had 19 firefighting units, six helicopters and a large air tanker battling the out-of-control fire in Orroral Valley. Residents in the small village of Tharwa, south of Canberra, were told they could be affected by the fire. There are also fears for the site - now only concrete remains - of the former Honeysuckle Creek tracking station, which in July 1969 captured the footage of the first moon landing. Landholders and residents were told to activate their bushfire plans, with the Exhibition Park showground in Canberra being opened for horses.

'ACT Emergency Services Agency commissioner Georgeina Whelan confirmed firefighters had escorted a bushwalker from the park.

'Ms Whelan said firefighters were expecting a challenging seven to 10 days, as a heat wave starts in the capital.
Authorities warned Monday's situation could get worse with hot and slightly windy conditions fanning the blaze.
Spot fires broke out five kilometres east from the main fire as the larger blaze heads southeast. Canberrans were also told to brace for smoke from the blaze which would reach the capital later on Monday night. Defence and State Emergency Services personnel were doorknocking areas near the fire to warn residents. Defence aircraft were on standby to help with search and rescue if they were needed, Ms Whelan said. The ACT Emergency Services Agency has declared a total fire ban for the whole of the ACT from midnight on Monday to midnight on Friday.'


 
While statistically, this one will please Photex as 'man-made', it is hardly deliberate. Just goes to show, despite the recent rain, how dry the country is.



'A defence helicopter’s landing light is believed to have started the massive fire threatening homes south of Canberra. Authorities are warning the 8106-hectare blaze is the most serious Canberra has faced since the deadly 2003 fires.'

 
Last edited:
Not a good trend, given the apparent increase in the number of fires, and their severity, in recent years. Time for government, at both state and federal level, to make more resources available rather than relying on volunteers?

'Australia’s volunteer firefighting force has fallen to its lowest number in a decade, dropping almost 20 per cent after taking account of population growth.

'In the 2018/19 financial year, there was 824 volunteers per 100,000 people, according to a Productivity Commission report released on Wednesday. That’s fallen 18.8 per cent since 2009/10 when there was 1015 volunteer firefighters and support staff for every 100,000 people. While the rates have steadily declined over that period, overall numbers are also down after non-paid firefighter numbers peaked at 173,017 in 2012/13.

'Overall, volunteer numbers including support staff peaked in 2015/16 at 226,509 before falling to a decade-low of 207,445 in the most recent financial year. The paid firefighting workforce grew in the same period, but the rise isn’t in line with the decline of volunteers. There were almost 20,700 employees in fire services, including 15,223 tasked with battling blazes and the remainder support staff last financial year. That’s grown steadily from 17,278 in 2009/10 to from 20,297 in 2017/18 but only slightly year-to-year with the 2018/19 figure at 20,692. The rates per 100,000 people were calculated using the estimated residential population of a financial year and from 2016 included Norfolk Island, which has a population of just over 2000.'


 
But as they used to say, the only true wilderness is between a greenie's ears.
Have you ever been to East Gippsland and seen the old growth forest, or what's left of it, and how the logging (wood chip) industry operates....in person?
 
Have you ever been to East Gippsland and seen the old growth forest, or what's left of it, and how the logging (wood chip) industry operates....in person?

 
Have you ever been to East Gippsland and seen the old growth forest, or what's left of it, and how the logging (wood chip) industry operates....in person?
Not since 1983, and then only Lakes Entrance to Malacoota, when taking the scenic route from Melbourne to Sydney. I believe that selective logging (rather than clear felling) in old growth forest will assist in the inevitable fire fighting. Locking up forests results in fire trails (I wonder why they are called that?) becoming overgrown or even unusable.
 
More on the loss of the C130.

'Confronting footage has emerged of the moment a large air tanker crashed while fighting raging bushfires in NSW, killing the three US firefighters on board.

'Captain Ian McBeth, first officer Paul Clyde Hudson and flight engineer Rick DeMorgan Jr were on board the C-130 Hercules aircraft when it crashed near Peak View, northeast of Cooma, last week. Footage taken moments before the crash shows the water bombing aircraft dropping pink fire retardant over a bushfire burning in the area. “There he goes! He has done that one and he’s going to do the other one,” a man filming the plane can be heard saying. The air tanker then disappears into a thick cloud of smoke for a few seconds before an explosion is heard and a large ball of flames can be seen crashing to the ground.'


The plane can be seen dropping pink fire retardant on the blaze. Picture: Supplied

The plane can be seen dropping pink fire retardant on the blaze. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied
It then disappears into a huge cloud of smoke. Picture: Supplied

It then disappears into a huge cloud of smoke. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied


 
And Now they have bloody French made helicopters setting the grass on fire.
 
You are frankly talking cock. The majority of what is burning is virgin forest. It’s never been cut, regrown, replanted or burnt. The trees that are burning are mature gums, often 30m high.
And that’s why it’s burning so fiercely.
Yeah I know, the Aboriginals and firefighters have got it all wrong about fuel loads in the unmanaged forests.
 
And Now they have bloody French made helicopters setting the grass on fire.
No, European-designed, but Australian-made (manufactured by Australian Aerospace, a unit of Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters)).

 
And that’s why it’s burning so fiercely.
Yeah I know, the Aboriginals and firefighters have got it all wrong about fuel loads in the unmanaged forests.
Traditional owners didn’t burn forests; they burnt savannah. The fires are in areas where traditional owners are culturally and physically a long way from the land; their knowledge is of limited value.

The firefighters have always accepted that there’s nothing they can do about a major forest fire. Fire prevention and management policy has always focused on the marginal land between forest and township. Creating fire breaks between unmanaged forest and habitation. It is these breaks that have not been maintained. No one has ever tried to manage the big, remote gum forests, whether traditional owners, pioneers or National Parks.

The Gospers Mountain mega fire near us has burnt out forest that could never be managed. It’s too remote, impossible to access and simply too vast. For the past ten years, there hasn’t been enough rain so the soul is dry and gums have fallen. Lots of gums.

I’ve no idea how you think the fire load in Australian NPs and State Forests could be managed.
 
I believe that selective logging (rather than clear felling) in old growth forest will assist in the inevitable fire fighting. Locking up forests results in fire trails (I wonder why they are called that?) becoming overgrown or even unusable.
The problem is that "selective logging" remains quite rare, and clear felling is overwhelmingly the approach used. This has a few negative impacts:
  • forest water catchment areas no longer absorb the water which would have a) helped the soil retain moisture, and b) reduces inflow into reservoirs;
  • after clear felling, they do what are euphamistically called "regeneration burns" on the site, which add to fire risk and further reduce water catchment utility;
  • trails through forest are built solely to assist with timber removal, they're generally in the wrong places to protect communities against fire; and
  • selective logging tends to target high value (large) trees for further processing, whereas clear felled timber is overwhelmingly sent to be wood-chipped for the export pulp/paper market.
 
The problem is that "selective logging" remains quite rare, and clear felling is overwhelmingly the approach used. This has a few negative impacts:
  • forest water catchment areas no longer absorb the water which would have a) helped the soil retain moisture, and b) reduces inflow into reservoirs;
  • after clear felling, they do what are euphamistically called "regeneration burns" on the site, which add to fire risk and further reduce water catchment utility;
  • trails through forest are built solely to assist with timber removal, they're generally in the wrong places to protect communities against fire; and
  • selective logging tends to target high value (large) trees for further processing, whereas clear felled timber is overwhelmingly sent to be wood-chipped for the export pulp/paper market.
TBH I don’t think the Arrse Australian Fire Advisory Committee has a clue of the scale of Australian forests, their remoteness or the inhospitable nature of the terrain.

Gospers Mountain where the NSW mega fire is burning is (was?) mostly virgin forest. There’s no access; the valleys are deep rifts into which there are few paths let alone tracks. In some parts there’s are blocks upwards of 50x50 km with no tracks and little possibility of building them.

Selective logging isn’t an option in much of the forests as there’s no means of getting people in let alone logs out.

The National Parks Service “manage” the forests from helicopters. I have a friend whose job involves setting controlled burns in National Parks by setting fires from a chopper. They only do it in the parks where communities are nearby.
 

New Posts

Latest Threads

Top