Bushfires continue to burn in Tasmania

At least 26 bushfires are being fought by firefighters in Tasmania.

Photo above: Backburning near Arthur River in northwest Tasmania, January 29, 2016. Photo by W. Frey.

Bushfires that have been raging across northwest Tasmania for several weeks are still causing great concern in the island state south of Australia.

One of the fires in the Central Plateau has burned about 11,000 hectares (27,000 acres) in the World Heritage Area, about 1.2 percent of the WHA. Unique alpine flora such as pencil pines, king billy pines and cushion plants — some more than 1,000 years old — have been destroyed.

World Heritage site burned Tasmania
A burned area at a World Heritage site in Tasmania. Photo by Dan Broun.

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service has sent about one third of their wildland firefighters across the Bass Strait to assist their neighbors in Tasmania.

NSW RFS firefighters Tasmania
The New South Wales Rural Fire Service has sent a great deal of aid to assist with the fires in Tasmania. In these photos equipment is arriving to set up a camp capable of sleeping 150 firefighters at Moles Creek. Next week more firefighters and fire engines will be mobilized to Tasmania. NWS RFS photos.

Three air tankers from North America that have been working in Australia during their summer bushfire season have also been deployed, including a DC-10, Avro RJ85, and a C-130. This may be the first time these large aerial firefighting resources have been used in Tasmania. The Fire Service felt it was necessary to warn the residents to “not be alarmed” when they saw the air tankers “flying a bit low over the coast”. More information about the air tankers in Tasmania is at Fire Aviation.

DC-10 air tanker Tasmania
A DC-10 air tanker being used to fight wildfires in Tasmania. Photo by Tasmania Fire Service.

Most of the most active bushfires are in the northwest part of Tasmania. Three of the largest are in these areas:

  • Arthur River and Nelson Bay. 21,000 hectares (52,000 acres).
  • Pipeland Road. 62,000 hectares (153,000 acres).
  • Lake Mackenzie Road. 25,000 hectares (68,000 acres).

Another fire in the southwest part of the state has burned 4,000 hectares (10,000 acres) between Lake Gordon and Lake Pedder.

At least 26 bushfires are still active while 48 others have been contained.

Below are maps showing the locations of the fires, and more photos.

Continue reading “Bushfires continue to burn in Tasmania”

New occupants in the fire lookout tower at Malheur

Now that the terrorists who took over the facilities at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon have been arrested, there are new occupants in the fire lookout tower. Great Horned Owls.

Click on the photo a couple of times to see a larger version.

Four-axle former military HEMTT vehicle used as fire truck

Image above: Pickett Volunteer Fire Department’s HEMTT fire truck. KXII photo.

KXII has a story about a wildfire in Pontotoc County, Oklahoma where the Pickett Volunteer Fire Department used their huge 2,500-gallon wildland fire truck to help extinguish a fire near Ada (map). The vehicle is based on the military’s Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT), an eight-wheel drive beast manufactured by Oshkosh Truck Corporation. Many variations of the HEMTT were made and are still being used by military organizations around the world to carry cargo, Patriot Missiles, rockets, and portable bridges. There are also several varieties of fire trucks based on the HEMTT that hold from 1,000 to 2,500 gallons. 

Wikipedia had this information about one of the firefighting versions:

The M1142 is a Tactical Fire Fighting Truck (TFFT) capable of extinguishing aircraft, petroleum, brush, and structural fires at isolated military installations. The TFFT is based on a HEMTT M977A2 chassis with the heavier duty M1120 LHS HEMTT variant rear suspension. The TFFT contract was awarded to Pierce Manufacturing with Oshkosh Corporation as a subcontractor to Pierce.

HEMTT fire truck
Pickett Volunteer Fire Department’s HEMTT fire truck. KXII photo.

KXII wrote:

It cost the town only $30,000 through a government program that gives counties retired military equipment.

A vehicle like that would normally cost tax payers about $500,000.

Let us know in a comment if you know of other fire departments using a version of the HEMTT as a fire truck.

Occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge ends

Last four arrested at Malheur.

The wildland fire crew bunkhouse and all of the other buildings at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon have been freed from occupation by domestic terrorists. The last four remaining seditionists at the site were arrested today.

The FBI issued a press release with the details.

At about noon PST today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued this statement:

USFWS statement Malheur

Prescribed fire on Palomar Mountain

The Cleveland National Forest in southern California is conducting a prescribed fire on Palomar Mountain, northeast of San Diego.

TED-Ed video about how lodgepole pine depends on fire

Jim Schulz, with the help of editors, animators, and directors, created this TED-Ed Original Lesson about “Why wildfires are necessary”. The film has a very clear description of how lodgepole pines depend on fire to regenerate and maintain their forest.

After watching the video, you can go to the TED-Ed site (look on the right side of the page) to take an eight-question quiz (“think”), find additional resources (“dig deeper”), and discuss the topic.

TED-Ed describes Mr. Schulz as an “educator”.