Bushfire in Western Australia burns millions of acres


A huge bushfire in the Kimberley region of Western Australia has burned approximately 2.4 million acres (1 million hectares). Since it started from lightning two weeks ago it has been spreading across cattle stations on both sides of Gibb River Road and recently began approaching Aboriginal communities. Not all fires in sparsely populated areas of Western Australia are aggressively suppressed but firefighters have been working around the clock this week to put in a fireline on the north side near Gibb River Road station.

Kimberly region bushfire map
The Kimberley region of the north part of Western Australia. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite October 10, 2016. The black areas near the dots are most likely recently burned. Note the graphic scale at bottom-right.  MODIS/Wildfire Today.

Below is an excerpt from an article at ABC.NET in Australia:

Indigenous ranger groups from across the region have converged on the area to help, some travelling hundreds of kilometres. There is concern about the impact the bushfire will have on the landscape, which covers both prime grazing country and biodiversity hotspots.

The fire is now heading towards properties managed by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy. The group’s national operations manager Tim Allard said it would have a harsh impact on native species.

“It’s a significant fire and a significant chunk of land has been burnt in one event,” he said.

“It’s decimated the habitat for so many animals … [and] the other issue is it destroys all of the refuge for native animals to hide from feral cats.”

Fire and Rescue New South Wales acquires additional technolgy

Fire and Rescue New South Wales Fire (FRNSW) recently introduced to the Australian public examples of a multi-million-dollar batch of new technological devices they have added to the firefighters’ tool box.FRNSW drone

Drones are the latest weapon in the fight against fire, chemical spills and natural disasters, providing firefighters with real-time images of areas too dangerous to access and enabling rapid damage assessments. Two new drones are part of this new package, which also includes two custom-built mobile command centers and the installation of more than 180 mobile data terminals in fire trucks across NSW. FRNSW drone

Below is an excerpt from an article at Mashable:

The two mobile command centres feature radio and video feeds, as well as communication services such as high-speed satellite and 4G. The mobile data terminals will give firefighters access to weather data and local hydrant, gas and electricity maps as they head to incidents.

The drones, paired with six trained firefighters to operate them, will give response crews a view of the emergency site from above, whether during a fire, flood or chemical spill.

“Each vehicle has high speed internet and a 100-meter Wi-Fi bubble which could be invaluable to communities cut off from technology following a catastrophic fire or storm event,” Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Greg Mullins said in the statement.

“This new technology improves the information available for first responders and will ensure that we remain a world class fire, rescue and hazmat service.”

FRNSW mobile command

On International Women’s Day: firefighters in Australia

On International Women’s Day, March 8, take a look at this video from down under that highlights the role of women, especially firefighters, in Parks Victoria.

Long range spotting on Mt. Bolton Fire in Australia

Looking at this tweet and the video, Nicholas McCarthy is saying embers from the Mt. Bolton Fire in Victoria, Australia caused a spot fire five kilometers (3.1 miles) away from the main fire.

Mr. McCarthy is working on the Bushfire Convective Plume Experiment based out of the University of Queensland studying extreme fire weather with portable radar.

On February 23 the researchers shot the following time-lapse video of the smoke plume from the Mt. Bolton Fire.

The fire was burning furiously while the video was being filmed, in a day or twor it ran out of heavy fuel and was corralled by firefighters.

Below is a photo showing shorter-range spotting on the Mt. Bolton Fire.

Mt Bolton Fire Victoria CFA
Mt Bolton Fire. Photo by Victoria Country Fire Authority.

Time-lapse video of the Mt. Bolton bushfire

On February 23 we posted information about researchers in Victoria, Australia who are studying extreme fire weather using portable radar as part of the Bushfire Convective Plume Experiment (BCPE) associated with the University of Queensland in Australia.

Below is a time-lapse video they recorded at the Mt. Bolton bushfire.

Spot fires at the Mt. Bolton Fire in Victoria

Above: an Aircrane helicopter battles spot fires on a bushfire near Mt. Bolton in Victoria, Australia. Photo provided by the Country Fire Authority.

On Tuesday we had some photos and information about smoke plume research going on at the fire near Mt. Bolton in Victoria, Australia. The Country Fire Authority recently distributed this photo. There’s a lot going in that picture. It looks like that Aircrane has its hands full. I wonder if it was able to pick up that spot fire across the road, but the structures on the right side were probably a higher priority.

Later the CFA said the fire had been contained. A satellite photo of the fire’s location showed that it was in a hilly forested area surrounded by treeless pastures  and agriculture fields.