Former fire chiefs warn Australians about increasing climate threat

Pilliga Fire New South Wales
Pilliga Fire 60km southwest of Narrabri, New South Wales, Australia, January 2018.

An article in The Guardian says 20 former fire chiefs in Australia are warning that the country and the emergency services are not prepared for the escalating threat from bushfires caused by climate change.

Below is an excerpt:

In a statement issued before a federal election date is announced, 23 former emergency services leaders and senior personnel have called on both major parties to recognise the need for “national firefighting assets”, including large aircraft, to deal with the scale of the threat.

The document calls on the next prime minister to meet former emergency service leaders “who will outline, unconstrained by their former employers, how climate change risks are rapidly escalating”.

The group also wants the next government to commit to an inquiry into whether Australia’s emergency services are adequately resourced to deal with increased risks from natural disasters caused by climate change.

Last year, in Australia alone, the NSW fire season began in early August, a heatwave led to fires in rainforest areas of Queensland in early December, and forest in Tasmania’s world heritage area caught fire in January, Australia’s hottest month on record.

Fires Queensland satellite photo
Satellite photo of smoke from the fires in Queensland, Australia, November 26, 2018.

Bushfire east of Melbourne in Bunyip State Park doubles in size

The fire has grown to over 30,600 acres (12,400 HA)

satellite photo map bushfire east of Melbourne, Victoria
The satellite photo shows smoke created by the bushfires east of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, March 3, 2019. The red dots represent heat. The white areas south and west of Melbourne are clouds. To the east is smoke.

The large bushfire about 65km east of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia has doubled in size during the last 24 hours. It is a result of four fires in Bunyip State Park merging and has now blackened about 12,400 HA (30,600 acres).

Emergency Management Victoria has downgraded the incident from an emergency alert to a Watch and Act that affects the following areas: Basan Corner, Beenak, Bunyip, Bunyip North, Cornucopia, Garfield, Garfield North, Gentle Annie, Labertouche, Longwarry North, Maryknoll, Nar Nar Goon, Tonimbuk, Tynong, Tynong North.

On Saturday and Sunday the wind direction changed several times pushing the fire in a variety of directions. This can be very dangerous for firefighters.

map bushfire east of Melbourne, Victoria
Map showing the location of the bushfire east of Melbourne, Victoria.

The video below at 1:30 captured Air Tanker 137, a Boeing 737, making a retardant drop.

Hot, dry, windy conditions spread wildfires east of Melbourne, Australia

A blaze in Bunyip State Park has burned over 15,000 acres

Wildfires in Victoria
Wildfires in Victoria east of Melbourne, March 3, 2019 local time. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite.

The weather in Victoria, Australia is causing multiple wildfires to spread rapidly endangering residents in some areas east of Melbourne. Presently there are 25 fires burning in the state. Fifteen of them are in eastern Victoria.

Four fires near Bunyip State Park, near Tonumbik, about 65km east of Melbourne, merged on Saturday into one blaze that has burned 6,280 hectares (15,500 acres) as of Sunday afternoon local time.

map wildfire Bunyip State Park in Victoria, Australia
Map showing the location of the wildfire in Bunyip State Park in Victoria, Australia. Vic Emergency map.

Officials warn that the fire in the state park is expected, after a wind shift, to move closer to Labertouche North and warned residents to be prepared to evacuate. Three homes have been destroyed in the fire so far.

Wildfire in Bunrip State Park
Wildfire in Bunyip State Park. Screengrab from 7 News Melbourne video.

At least one night-flying helicopter dropped water on the fire Saturday night until 3 a.m. local time. About 850 people, 120 fire trucks, and 20 aircraft will be working on the state park blaze Sunday.

Video of rotating convection column

rotating convection column
Screenshot from @StormCatMedia video below.

Most large convection columns of smoke rising over large or intense wildfires rotate to some degree. In the video below filmed near Melbourne, Australia, the speed of the playback has been increased, making it easier to notice the rotation. To confirm this, check out the car driving by at what appears to be over 250 miles per hour.

Thanks Mike. Very interesting!

As a bonus, here is another recent convection column in Australia — a very large one with condensation on top, referred to as a pyrocumulus cloud.

Impressive fire whirl in Australia

fire whirl
A still image from the video below of a fire whirl in New South Wales, Australia, February, 2019.

This video, below, of extreme fire behavior was posted by Shane Fitzsimmons, the Commissioner of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service in Australia. It shows a fire whirl, sometimes incorrectly called a fire tornado. Fire tornados exist, but they are much, much larger and can last for up to an hour or so and average 100 to 1,000 feet in diameter with rotational velocities up to 90 MPH.

Wallangarra bushfire burns over 100,000 acres in NSW

It is burning in both Queensland and New South Wales, Australia

Wallangarra bushfire NSW Australia
A bushfire in New South Wales and Queensland is near Wallangarra, Tenterfield, Stanthorpe, and Jennings. NSW RFS photo.

A very large bushfire has burned at least 43,800ha (108,232 acres) in Queensland and New South Wales in Australia. Smoke from the fire is affecting Wallangarra, Tenterfield, Stanthorpe, and Jennings.

At 8:55 a.m. local time on February 19 the New South Wales Rural Fire Service reported that the fire continues to burn west of the Bruxner Highway in the Girraween, Bald Rock, Boonoo areas.

Most activity overnight was on the southwest side of the fire near Sunnyside, on the northwestern side of the fire in Girraween National Park (Queensland), north of Wallangarra, and on the southeast side near the Bruxner Highway.

During the night crews conducted backburning operations which increased the fire activity and the production of smoke. This smoke is likely to settle around the areas of Tenterfield, Jennings, Wallangarra and Stanthorpe (QLD), but will begin to clear late Tuesday morning.

Wallangarra Fire map
Satellite photo of the Wallangarra Fire burning in Queensland and New South Wales. The red dots indicate heat. NASA photo.