Pyrocumulus cloud near Timbarra, Victoria

Pyrocumulus Australia wildfire bushfire
Pyrocumulus north of Timbarra, Victoria, Australia. Murray King took the photo 30km west of the fire in Bindi, East Gippsland on January 25, 2019 at 5:30 p.m.

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.

Thanks Murry.

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.

Here is another photo of the pyrocumulus taken around the same time.

Massive pyrocumulus cloud over Australian bushfire produces hundreds of lightning strikes

Timbarra bushfire
Massive pyrocumulus cloud over a bushfire north of Timbarra, Victoria, Australia. TRFM photo.

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.

A success story at Tarrawingee

Victoria Bushfire
Screenshot from video by Tarrawingee Rural Fire Brigade.

Quick work by firefighters in Victoria, Australia drew praise from the daughter of a landowner whose property was burning near Tarrawingee northeast of Melbourne.

The Country Fire Authority reported that firefighters from Eldorado, Everton, Springhurst, Tarrawingee, Wangaratta, and Wangaratt North responded to the fire on the Tarrawingee-Eldorado Road at around midday on Saturday December 1. The fire was brought under control by 12:25 P.M.

Posting on Facebook, Brooke Sheppard Ross said: “For one hour these selfless people assisted by DSE and Forestry members battled the dry grass and intermittent wind that fanned the flames into our bush land paddocks.”

From The Guardian on November 28:

While parts of the drought-stricken eastern [Australian] states have enjoyed some recent rain and there have been huge downpours along the NSW coast during this week’s storms, experts are warning it won’t be long before the hot summer temperatures dry out ground vegetation.

“Above-normal fire potential remains across large parts of southern Australia,” the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre said in its seasonal bushfire outlook, also released on Thursday.

As part of its summer outlook, the Bureau of Meteorology has forecast a drier-than-average summer for large parts of Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

“Having said that, locally heavy rainfall events similar to what we have seen in NSW in the last two days are always a possibility during summer, no matter what the outlook is showing,” Watkins said.

NSW has recorded its eighth driest and fourth hottest April-November on record, with Queensland and Victoria having experienced similar conditions.

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.

Australia is off to an early wildfire season

Firefighters in some parts of Australia are getting busy. These photos are from Forest Fire Management Victoria.