Firefighters busy in New South Wales

Above: Photo of the Lone Pine fire at Port Stephens. The fire crossed the Pacific Highway near Tarean Road and was moving east toward Scotts Road. New South Wales Rural Fire Service.

Numerous wildfires have been keeping firefighters in New South Wales busy for the last several days.

fire map NSW
November 5, 2016 U.S. time. 52 bush and grass fires burning across NSW, with 17 yet to be contained. The Lone Pine Fire (Port Stephens) closed the Pacific Highway again, mainly due to smoke.

This video has some great shots of some of the activity:

North American air tankers under contract during the Australian summer, Coulson’s Tanker 132, an L-382G, and 10 Tanker’s T-910, a DC-10, have been used extensively over the last three days.

As you can see below, the infrared mapping system the Aussies use provides an excellent image showing the location and intensity of a fire.

infrared fire NSW
This is a infrared linescan image of the Lone Pine fire that is currently burning north of Karuah. New South Wales Rural Fire Service.

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

Animated wildfire smoke forecast

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service in Australia sent this interesting tweet today — an animated wildfire smoke forecast. I have not seen this distributed to the public in the United States.

After you start the video and click on the arrows at the bottom-right, it will fill the screen and you can almost read the names of the geographic features. So obviously it needs a better background map (and maybe fewer wind direction arrows that clutter the image) but it has potential for keeping the public informed about wildfire smoke.

New South Wales fire mapping

Gold Mine Road Fire,
Gold Mine Road Fire, NSW RFS

The image above was distributed by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, showing a map of the Gold Mine Road Fire 17 km southwest of Towamba in the Yambulla State Forest. The map is part of the agency’s Common Operating Picture.

It was apparently obtained by infrared equipment that processed the data in a format we have not seen publicly in the United States. The black lines are most likely the path of the line scanner as the mirror rotated at thousands of RPM in a fixed wing aircraft. It’s interesting that the target discrimination marks (TDMs) only appear at the ends of each line, rather than at every heat source. The intensity of the heat is represented by a range of orange and yellow colors.

The U.S. Forest Service has been mapping fires with infrared equipment for at least four decades, but the folks down under also have very advanced IR systems.

Gold Mine Fire map NSWRFS
Map of the Gold Mine Fire as seen in the NSW RFS Common Operating Picture.


10-year old praised for making bushfire preparedness video

When 10-year Toby Douglas’ house was threatened by a bushfire in New South Wales in 2013 he made this stop-action video to help make residents aware of an app distributed by the New South Wales Rural Fire Service and of the importance of having a bushfire survival plan. Last month the video was uploaded to YouTube, garnering much attention and praise for the young filmmaker.

30 fires burning across New South Wales

NSW fire
NSW RFS photo.

Firefighters in New South Wales, Australia, are battling 30 fires in their state, 17 of which are uncontrolled.

Below is an excerpt from an article at ABC news:

The Hunter region fire is burning west of Teralba on Rhondda Road behind a quarry and is sending large amounts of smoke over the area.
Paul Best from the RFS said the fire was being pushed east by westerly winds.

“People in Teralba might start seeing some embers falling and they’ll definitely be seeing smoke,” he said.

“There has been a request for aircraft and there will be some aircraft attending that fire.”

A separate bushfire in the Upper Hunter is still burning near the Goulburn River National Park, covering 25 hectares. More than 20 firefighters are on the ground fighting the blaze at Gungal, with four aircraft involved in the operation. Strong winds are producing unfavourable conditions, pushing the fire closer to the national park.

Firefighters are also battling a blaze at Budda Creek, in remote bushland within Yengo National Park, in the Hawkesbury region of Sydney. That fire had burnt more than 220 hectares, the RFS said.

There are two fires burning in a similar vicinity, started by lighting strikes from storms that went through the area yesterday.

RFS Inspector Ben Shepherd said there would be a large concentration of firefighting efforts in the Hawkesbury region in the coming weeks, with large fires burning in the area.

The NSW RFS video below is from the Budda Creek Fire near Hawkesbury.

Budda Creek Fire, NSW
Budda Creek Fire, Hawkesbury LGA. NSW RFS photo.

Fire Aviation has two videos of a DC-10 air tanker dropping on fires in New South Wales.