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.

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.

Using radar to study smoke plumes

The researchers below are studying extreme fire weather using portable radar. This is part of the Bushfire Convective Plume Experiment (BCPE) associated with the University of Queensland in Australia.

Smoke plume research
Smoke plume research

More information about the smoke plume research.

Victoria’s Country Fire Authority distributed the image below earlier on Tuesday (U.S. time) — the photo is from the Bolton Fire, the same one being studied by the researchers above:

It’s been a big day for our emergency management family! 400+ incidents, including over 50 grass and scrub fires, 300+…

Posted by CFA (Country Fire Authority) on Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The photos below are also from the Bolton Fire. The CFA is saying the fire is now contained. A satellite photo of the fire’s location showed a hilly forested area surrounded by treeless pastures and other agriculture.

Photos from the front line…These photos were taken at the Mount Bolton fire earlier today by Waubra Fire Brigade…

Posted by CFA (Country Fire Authority) on Monday, February 22, 2016

Message to Australians in bushfire-prone areas: “Leave and live”

Lorne-Jamieson Track Bushfire
A community impacted by the Lorne-Jamieson Track Bushfire. Country Fire Authority photo.

One of the many fires that have plagued Victoria, Australia in recent weeks, the Lorne-Jamieson Track Bushfire, destroyed 116 homes. With the state being in the midst of their bushfire season fire officials are encouraging residents to leave early if there is a report of a fire, rather than waiting too late — a mistake that has killed civilians who became trapped on roads and overrun by flames.

Below is an excerpt from an article in The Age written by Craig Lapsley, Victoria’s Emergency Management Commissioner.

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“…The only guaranteed way of surviving a bushfire is to not be there. That is the underpinning logic behind leaving early.

Fire is neither logical nor forgiving. Few people are adequately prepared, physically or emotionally, or have sufficient resources to remain and defend their properties. And so the message again this summer is to leave early. The message is captured in the slogan “Leave and live”.

On Christmas day, even after a recommendation to evacuate had been made, there were those in Lorne who chose to “wait and see”, the circumstance that has historically led to most bushfire deaths as people leave late and are caught on the roads, in the open or trapped in homes that cannot be defended.

fire crew Otways bushfire
Anthony Hester and his fire crew at the Otways bushfire in Victoria, Australia. Photo by Hamish Blair.

Larger, more complex questions face our community in the months and years ahead. The issue of land-use planning is one of these. More people are seeking to live deeper in the bush and enabling them to do so safely presents significant challenges.  A more structured approach to private shelters in high bushfire risk developments is one option.

More fundamentally, urban development both around Melbourne and regional centres, is being pushed into forested and even grassland areas that are inherently fire prone. New communities must be planned in a manner that does not inadvertently expose them to risk, be it from bushfire or other natural hazards. There is work being done within governments around this but a significant dialogue remains to be had with the broader community.

How existing communities are strengthened both physically and in terms of social resilience remains one of our biggest challenges. The vast majority of the existing building stock in high risk areas across the state is simply not designed to withstand the passage of a bushfire. This will not change within the foreseeable future. Community based planning that factors this inherent weakness into survival strategies has to play a part in strengthening communities against disaster…”