Burn scars of the fire that burned into Tathra, NSW

(Originally published at 3:26 MDT March 27, 2018)

These satellite images show before and after photos of the March 18, 2018 bushfire that started southeast of Bega, NSW, Australia, and burned into Tathra, destroying at last count 69 homes.

The images were captured by the Sentinel-2 satellite system (March 26, 2018, 11:02 am local time) and were analyzed by BigDataEarth.com.

map tathra NSW wildfire homes destroyed
Map showing the area in New South Wales between Bega (on the left) and Tathra (on the coast on the right) before the fire.
map tathra New South Wales wildfire
Map showing the area in New South Wales between Bega (on the left) and Tathra (on the coast on the right) after the fire. The brown areas represent the burned area.

69 homes believed destroyed in New South Wales bushfire

Above: A fire burns structures in Tathra, New South Wales. Photo credit: NSW Rural Fire Service.

(Updated at 8:30 a.m. MDT March 19, 2018, US time)

At least 69 homes were destroyed and 39 damaged in the bushfire that spread into the coastal community of Tathra in New South Wales according to the Rural Fire Service.

As the fire ran into the town many residents took refuge on the beach, but very strong winds, smoke, and blowing sand convinced some to leave and head for the evacuation center in Bega.

The fire has burned approximately 1,200 hectares (2,965 acres).

map fire tathra
Map of the fire near Tathra, New South Wales. NSW RFS.


(Originally published at 11:03 a.m. MDT March 18, 2018, US time)

A fire that started southeast of Bega, New South Wales has burned east to the Pacific coast destroying homes in its path. The official tally of the affected structures is not available but Campbell Fuller, communications director of the Insurance Council of Australia, said “We are hearing several dozen properties” burned.

map bushfire Tathra new south wales
Google Earth file photo of the area in Tathra NSW affected by a bushfire. Compare this image to the one at the top of the article.

From the Daily Telegraph:

Earlier on Sunday night Bega Valley Shire Council mayor Kristy McBain said up to 35 homes had been lost and the concern was now about people stuck in Tathra as the roads in and out of the town were closed.

Many of the destroyed homes were in the small coastal community of Tathra, population 1,622. After the fire ran east for 5 miles (8 km) from the Bega area to the coast, jumping the Bega River, the wind shifted to come out of the south, slowing the spread. Officials advised residents to continue to monitor conditions and be prepared to enact their bush fire survival plan should the fire threaten again. The evacuation center is at Bega Showground.

map bushfire Tathra new south wales
Map of the bushfire between Bega and Tathra NSW. Map by NSW RFS.

The NSW Rural Fire Service video below shows Air Tanker 390 making a drop in Tathra.

The latest size of the fire released by the Rural Fire service at 23:10 March 18 local time was 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres).

bushfire Tathra new south wales
Air Tanker 390 makes a retardant drop near structures in Tathra, NSW. Photo credit, NSW RFS.

 

Firefighters and aircraft are being kept busy in New South Wales

(This article was first published on Fire Aviation)

A post shared by Charlton Durie (@charltondurie) on

Click on the image above to start the video. Then, to see a second video, click on the arrow on the right side of the image.

Instagram user “charltondurie” grabbed this photo and video of Air Tanker 912, a DC-10, dropping retardant on a fire about 70 miles (110 km) southwest of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia that has burned 1,880 ha (4,645 acres) northeast of Taralga between Bannaby and Wombeyan Caves.

A huge fire in the Pilliga Forest between Coonabarabran and Narrabri has blackened over 57,880 hectares (143,000 acres).

Lightning ignited multiple fires across the Blue Mountains and Yengo National Parks in NSW Monday evening. There are two fires burning in remote areas to the north of the Great Western Highway in the Grose Valley, Blue Mountains National Park and an additional six fires south of the Great Western Highway and north of Warragamba Dam in the Blue Labyrinth, Blue Mountains National Park. The aircraft is named “Nancy Bird” after an Australian aviatrix.

There is also one fire in the Yengo National Park, east of the Putty Road in the Hawkesbury.

These lightning fires are burning in remote areas. NSW  Rural Fire Service and  National Parks and Wildlife Remote Area Firefighters have worked to establish and consolidate containment lines with the support of air tankers.

PIlliga Fire closes Newell Highway in New South Wales

Above: The Pilliga Fire 60 km southwest of Narrabri, New South Wales, Australia. Modified Copernicus Sentinel satellite data  processed by Pierre Markuse.

(Originally published at 8:46 MST January 19, 2018)

The Pilliga Fire in Australia between #Coonabarabran and #Narrabri has burned approximately 20,000 hectares (49,400 acres) in New South Wales, requiring the closure of the Newell Highway. The fire is burning near Dipper Road, Dandry, in the Pilliga Forest west of the highway.

Pilliga Fire New South Wales
Pilliga Fire 60 km southwest of Narrabri, New South Wales, Australia.

The Rural Fire Service reports that smoke is likely to drift across the Wee Waa, Gwabegar, and Baradine areas. There is, however, no current threat to homes.

Pilliga Fire New South Wales
Pilliga Fire 60 km southwest of Narrabri, New South Wales, Australia.

map Pilliga Fire New South Wales

Bushfire in NSW threatened communities north of Newcastle

On Saturday January 13 a bushfire near Masonite Road threatened the communities of Tomago, Williamtown, and Raymond Terrace 17 Km north of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.

(If you don’t see the video below shot from an air attack aircraft, click HERE.)

The weather changed, bringing a little precipitation after it had burned 1,381 hectares (3,412 acre), slowing the spread. For a while the Newcastle airport was closed due to visibility reduced by smoke.

The fire was fought by 66 firefighters from the Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue, and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. They were assisted by helicopters and Air Tanker 912, a DC-10 that was recently renamed “Nancy Bird” in honor of an Australian aviatrix.

Victoria’s new fire engines have rollover and tree protection

Above: Mercedes Benz G-wagon fire engine. Photo by Victoria Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning 

In the last week two reports have been released about serious accidents involving U.S. Forest Service fire engines. One was a rollover and the other was an engine that was hit by a falling tree. Rollovers of wildland engines are common. We have assigned the “rollover” tag to 48 articles on Wildfire Today. There were two fairly minor injuries in the most recent rollover and none in the tree strike incident. Other rollovers have been much more serious.

Engine 492 crash Wyoming
The crash of USFS Engine 492 in Wyoming August 8, 2013. USFS photo.

Some of the newer USFS engines have what the manufacturer calls a “Rear Cab Protection Rack (headache rack)”, a roll bar behind the cab, but in spite of this, the cab of the recent rollover was partially crushed, making it a challenge for the three occupants to climb out of the damaged side window.

The Australians have been more forward-thinking than their US counterparts when it comes to providing for the safety of the firefighters that work with engines. Many of the trucks have spray bars that provide a water curtain around the cab which can be activated if the crew is entrapped in a fire. Some of them also have substantial rollover protection systems that prevent the passenger compartment from being crushed in a rollover.

Internal roll bar Country Fire Authority engine
Internal roll bar in a Country Fire Authority engine in Victoria..

Three years ago in Victoria, Australia two firefighters were killed at Harrietville when their fire engine was struck by a falling tree. The next year the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning began acquiring the first of dozens of new Mercedes-Benz G-wagon fire engines.

Mercedes Benz G-wagon fire engine
Mercedes Benz G-wagon engine. Screen grab from the Tweet below.

The new trucks have a superstructure suspended horizontally over the cab that should minimize injuries to the crew in case of a falling tree. It appears that it would also offer rollover protection for the occupants.

We have often suggested that the wildland fire agencies in the United States fund research conducted by engineers to determine how to prevent the passenger compartments in their fire engines from collapsing in accidents. The Aussies have it covered, so to speak.