Winds in Australia that have changed directions several times in recent days have been pushing a large bushfire in multiple directions. The Tingha Fire that started Sunday in New South Wales has burned around the community of Tingha closing roads in and out of the community. The blaze is between Inverell and Guyra.
NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said firefighters indicate “numerous properties” including homes, sheds and other outbuildings were damaged or destroyed Wednesday afternoon.
ABC Australia reported that a 40-year old woman was charged with allowing her trash fire to escape, which ignited what has developed into a 30,600-acre (12,400 ha) wildfire.
The Rural Fire Service said winds on Thursday are expected to push the fire closer to Gilgai. Other areas threatened include Old Mill, Stannifer, Guyra Road east of Tingha, and the Howell Road area. But weather conditions on Thursday should be more favorable for firefighters.
On the map below, Tingha is in the center — where two major roads intersect.
Firefighters are facing tough conditions at the fire at Tingha. The fire has impacted on a number of rural properties and is burning on the northern and southern side of the town. #nswrfs#nswfirespic.twitter.com/jqnMqzaj6Y
Climate change has already brought alarming change to Tasmania, the huge island south of the Australian mainland. Until recently it was assumed that the climate differences would not be massive since it was thought by some that the ocean surrounding the island would not be heating as quickly as it was in other areas.
Now the southwest area of the state, the heart of its world heritage area, is being described as dying — the rainforest and heathlands are beginning to disappear. The nearby seas, it turns out, are warming at two to three times the global rate.
Richard Flanagan writes about this issue in an opinion article at The Guardian. Below is an excerpt:
…Then there was the startlingly new phenomenon of widespread dry lightning storms. Almost unknown in Tasmania until this century they had increased exponentially since 2000, leading to a greatly increased rate of fire in a rapidly drying south-west. Compounding all this, winds were also growing in duration, further drying the environment and fuelling the fires’ spread and ferocity.
Such a future would see these fires destroy Tasmania’s globally unique rainforests and mesmerizing alpine heathlands. Unlike mainland eucalyptus forest these ecosystems do not regenerate after fire: they would vanish forever. Tasmania’s world heritage area was our Great Barrier Reef, and, like the Great Barrier Reef, it seemed doomed by climate change.
Later [Prof Peter] Davies [an eminent water scientist] took me on a research trip into a remote part of the south-west to show me the deeply upsetting sight of an area that was once peatland and forest and was now, after repeated burning, wet gravel. The news was hard to comprehend – the enemies of Tasmania’s wild lands had always had local addresses: the Hydro Electricity Commission, Gunns, various tourism ventures. They could be named and they could be fought, and, in some cases, beaten.
Six weeks ago, the future that Davies and others had been predicting arrived in Tasmania. Lightning strikes ignited what would become known as the Gell River fire in the island’s south-west. In later weeks more lightning strikes led to more fires, every major one of which is still burning.
Murry King sent us this photo of the pyrocumulus cloud over a bushfire north of Timbarra, Victoria, Australia. He got the shot from a point 30km west of the fire in Bindi, East Gippsland on January 25, 2019 at 5:30 p.m.
Here is the latest information about the fire from Vic Emergency:
This Advice message is being issued for Timbarra, Gillingall, Gelantipy, Butchers Ridge, W-Tree, Murrindal, Buchan and Buchan South.
There is an active bushfire north of Timbarra and Gillingall and west of the Gelantipy Road between Butchers Ridge and W-Tree that is not yet under control.
We have now started igniting a back burn on the south eastern corner of the fire near W-Tree, along Hodges Track and Dawson Track. If conditions are favourable, we will continue to extend the back burn later today.
There will be increased smoke in this area. Crews and machinery continue to strengthen containment lines around the fire perimeter.
Numerous bushfires are burning in the island state south of the Australia mainland
Firefighters in Tasmania has been battling large bushfires for the last month and conditions are not improving. Several large air tankers and helicopters from the Australian mainland, as well as firefighters, have flown across the Bass Strait to provide assistance.
Below are excerpts from an article from ABC Australia published at about 6 a.m. PST US January 30:
Communities in the Central Plateau also remain on high alert with gusty winds pushing flames towards properties.
More than 500 firefighters are battling nearly 1,500 kilometres of fire fronts across Tasmania but the main fire fight is in the Huon Valley, south of Hobart.
The Tasmania Fire Service said the Huon Highway near Geeveston was expected to be impacted by fire tonight, with the possibility that communities further south could be cut off for an extended period of time.
Extreme heat on Friday in Victoria, Australia combined with strong winds and low humidity caused a bushfire 10 km (6 miles) north of Timbarra to grow from 300 hectares (740 acres) to approximately 10,522 hectares (26,000 acres). Lighting ignited the fire on January 16 and in an odd twist, extreme fire behavior Friday created hundreds of lightning strikes around a massive pyrocumulus cloud that rose to 38,000 feet while igniting additional fires.
The temperature at the top of the cloud was -55°C (-67°F) according to the Victoria Bureau of Meteorology.
Friday evening the weather changed substantially, bringing in cool, moist air that slowed the spread of the fire. Officials say due to the size and difficult topography, it will be weeks before it can be completely contained.
Wildfires that have been burning for weeks in Tasmania, the southernmost state in Australia, continue to spread and affect properties and air quality on the island. Some of the blazes in the central part of the state are burning in deep-seated organic soil, peat, and are likely to keep burning through the Australian summer.
Below is an excerpt from Radio New Zealand:
The fires have been burning since late December, in the Gell River area, after a heatwave and a period of lightning strikes and high winds. The fires were burning across 20,000 hectares (49,000 acres) of mountainous terrain.
Haze from bushfire smoke is blanketing several Tasmanian towns, with hot and dry conditions across the state and more than 30 blazes already burning setting the scene for a nervous few days.
South of Hobart, air quality monitoring data measured smoke particles at 8.00am as being at elevated levels, with Geeveston at 35 times that of Hobart. Residents living in the Huon Valley, where smoke from the bushfire at Gell River has filled the sky, posted on social media that many had not seen conditions as bad, with some mentioning 1967 as the only year which came close – the year of Tasmania’s worst fire disaster.
On Facebook, George Henry Ross asked locals if they had ever seen so much smoke haze around the valley.
“I can’t remember a summer like it,” he said, with many agreeing.
Eric Bat said he had been chatting with a bloke who did remember a summer like it: 1967.
“We rather hoped things have improved since then.”
Reinforcements are being sent to Tasmania from New South Wales, Queensland, and New Zealand.
At least two large air tankers from the Australian mainland are helping out.
15 of our best have made their way to #Tasmania this weekend to assist local crews battling blazes in intense heatwave conditions. 🔥 It’s great to be able to repay our neighbours for the hard work they put in during Qld’s severe fires last year. 👏 @TasFireServicepic.twitter.com/WzWsh15lKW