Tom Goldstraw, one of our loyal readers in Australia, sent us these photos of a fire in the Grampians region of western Victoria. He reports that the fire was 170 hectares (427 acres) when he arrived and it had burned 35,000 hectares (86,000 acres) when they left. It was a tough trip, he said. Lighting ignited 12 fires, many of which were swept up in two large fires.
A large bushfire moving slowly to the north is impacting Mirranatwa in the Victoria Valley of Australia (map). Three fires have merged into one and are now being managed as the Grampians-Victoria Valley Complex of fires. As of 2:48 a.m. Tuesday February 19 local time it had burned 6,029 hectares (14,897 acres) according to the Country Fire Authority (CFA). The complex includes the fires formerly known as Clutterbucks Road, Jensens Road and Burnt Hut Track.
Personnel from CFA, Department of Sustainability and Environment and Parks Victoria are concentrating on structure protection.
Here is a link to a CFA map of the fire.
Below is an interesting video report about the fire by News.Com.Au (where you can see a larger version of the video image):
DSE can now confirm the sad news of the death of two DSE fire-fighters at the Harrietville – Alpine North fire ground. Victoria Police investigators believe the colleagues were in their emergency vehicle, which was struck by a falling tree about 3.35pm today – Wednesday 13 February. Emergency services attempted to attend the scene but due to fire and difficult conditions in the immediate area were unable to. They reached the scene around 8.10pm. The deceased man is believed to be in his 30s from Corryong and the woman in her late teens, from Tallandoon. DSE is working closely with Victoria Police and our thoughts are with the families of our two DSE staff members, our staff and the community during this difficult time.
Our sincere condolences go out to the firefighter’s families and coworkers.
The Country Fire Authority (CFA) in Victoria, Australia has warned users of their mobile app that if they are using an iPhone or iPad with the most recent operating system, iOS6, some towns are not located correctly on the maps provided by Apple.
The FireReady app is designed to deliver timely information about bushfires and other emergencies to smartphone owners in Victoria. It can provide push notifications to let you know if there is a fire near your location.
Users report that some towns are located on their maps at the center of the district rather than the actual location. The CFA has contacted Apple Australia a number of times but they have not provided a solution. This is not just a problem for the FireReady Apple app, but similar inaccuracies have been found world-wide in Apple Maps. In November Apple fired two key managers responsible for developing the program, including their head of software development, Scott Forstall.
This malfunction only applies to Apple devices which are forced to use the problem-plagued Apple Maps. Those who have Android phones have the luxury of seeing Google Maps displayed by the app.
In addition to providing current information about ongoing bushfires, the app also allows users to upload photos of incidents. Below are two examples that were sent in on February 11 of the Shapparton fire.
An Australian rules football team had to be evacuated by helicopters when they found themselves out ahead of an advancing bushfire in Victoria near Mount Feathertop.
According to the Border Mail, 36 members of the Gippsland Power Football team were training at high altitude and had no choice but to be flown out by helicopters when a bushfre approached their location. They were participating in a preseason training camp at Mount Feathertop, which is 6,300 feet (1,922 M) above sea level.
Here is an excerpt from an article at the Border Mail:
…[Team doctor Wayne] Thompson said he and the team were on the 22 kilometre Razorback Trail up the mountain and as they started climbing, smoke started getting thicker.
“There was just smoke and all of a sudden the smoke got a bit thicker and then we could see flames,” Mr Thompson said.
Flames were about four kilometres away and with mobile coverage, they were able to keep in contact with emergency services while a helicopter hovered overhead monitoring the fire.
About 3.30pm and with flames only 100 metres away, a bigger helicopter was bought in to airlift 15 people at a time from a track between Federation Hut and Mount Feathertop.
They were taken to Hotham Village along with other hikers that had been rescued.
Mr Thompson said constant contact with emergency services kept any panic at bay.
I have to admit, I had to do a little research to find out what Australian rules football is all about. Apparently they use a ball that appears similar to the American football used in the United States, but the game resembles soccer (football in Europe) more than American football. Here’s more from Wikipedia:
UPDATE: January 14, 2013. The deceased firefighter has been identified as Peter Ronald Cramer, 61, a 30-year volunteer from the town of Tyers, Victoria about 160km east of Melbourne. The latest information is that he been on foot identifying containment lines before he was found deceased on a track at 5pm on Sunday.
A firefighter from Gippsland aged in his 60s died Sunday while working on a wildfire in Tasmania. The man was one of 70 from Victoria that had been sent to assist with the suppression of fires raging in the state. News.com.au reported that the firefighter was on foot conducting a backburning operation on the Forcett Fire when he was killed near Taranna, about 30 air miles southeast of Hobart (map).
The firefighter’s family has been notified but his name has not been released to the public.
The Forcett fire started on November 16 and has burned 24,040 hectares (59,404 acres) within a perimeter of 200km. It is being fought by 150 firefighters using 39 tankers and four aircraft.
Our sincere condolences go out to the firefighter’s family and co-workers.