30 August 2007

Early SA fire bans

For tomorrow, 2 days before the beginning of spring...

South Australia is bracing for a day of high bushfire danger tomorrow two days before the official start of spring.


"It is possible that there will be a number of districts subject to a total fire ban on Thursday, particularly where there is scrub or forested areas across the state," said CFS deputy state coordinator Malim Watts.

"On a day like Thursday there is potential for burn-offs to spread out of control and escalate into larger scale bushfires.

"Fires can also rekindle days or even weeks after burn-offs have occurred so it's important to continue monitoring the burnt area."

Mr Watts said South Australia experienced winds and warm weather on Tuesday and several fires began on the Eyre Peninsula from burn-offs.

From this news item from the ABC, quoted from a BoM forecaster in Adelaide...

"One thing we probably haven't seen in all this before is a fire ban for the Mount Lofty Ranges but we have one for tomorrow," he said.

"The highest temperature recorded in Adelaide is 29 [for August], we're going for 28 tomorrow so we're within one degree of our extremes."

The possibility of fire bans for today was noted in the media (and the forecasters!) a few days ago...

Also from the Bureau...


District Fire Danger Ratings for Thursday.
Issued at 5:10 pm on Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Northwest Pastoral Not applicable
Northeast Pastoral Not applicable
West Coast Extreme in bushland areas
Eastern Eyre Peninsula Extreme in bushland areas
Lower Eyre Peninsula Extreme in bushland areas
Flinders Very High in bushland areas
Mid North Very High in bushland areas
Mount Lofty Ranges Extreme in bushland and forest areas
Adelaide Metropolitan Very High in bushland areas
Yorke Peninsula Very High in bushland areas
Kangaroo Island Very High in bushland and forest areas
Riverland Very High in bushland areas
Murraylands Very High in bushland areas
Upper South East Very High in bushland areas
Lower South East Very High in bushland and forest areas

There are similar rumblings about an early fire season being reported for western Victoria, as well.

it's a good thing the climate isn't changing <ha!>, or else we'd really be in trouble!

27 August 2007

Central NT wildfires

As briefly noted on last national overview (but not apparent on that map), some large fires are currently affects central NT around Tennant Creek. The map below is taken from NAFI.

In the image, purple are the most recent image, red in the last 2 days and blue in the last week.

There are three main areas of fire (in the last week). Several recent fire scars are also noted (green and yellow shading), suggesting this has been an active area for wildfire the last few months.

The largest fire appears to have impacted roughly 200 000 ha. I would hypothesize that the little 'pseudopod' of most recent fires extending southward represents an attempt to 'back burn' – a deliberately lit fire to reduce the fuel ahead of the fire front – using the two highways as natural fire breaks...

The western fire is also large. A crude estimate of 77 000 ha. On the (blurry) MODIS browse image you get over at the Sentinel site, quite a bit of dense smoke is apparent with this fire.

The northernmost fire looks to be largely inactive, although there are a few hotspots on the NE edge of the cluster.

No news items that I have regarding these fires at this time (that I have found...). This would suggest that the fire is burning in open bush and not particularly threatening any human 'values' at this time.

23 August 2007

Australian Fire Activity: 9 -18 August 2007

Below is the 10-day composite hotspot information from the MODIS instruments on board NASA satellite. Dates of the composite are 9-18 August 2007. Discussion after the image.

My subjective interpretation -- significant regions of fire

  • Kimberley region – fires noted in last discussion have really blown up during this period. See image below. This is from a few days after the composite. Those fires have grown considerably over the last 10 days or so...They appear to be moving generally northward, which suggests they may go out soon, as they are running into the sea...News reports suggest these fires were deliberately lit.

  • Dampier Peninsula – north of Broome. These fires have also expanded quite a bit. News reports have also suggested these fires were deliberately lit. Also visible on image below.

  • Pilbara – few fires inland from Port Hedland.

  • Cape York Peninsula – I believe these fires are mainly the result of aerial fuel reduction burns

  • Arnhem Land – these are mostly out now...

  • NE NSW – some moderate fires there. The really bad ones noted earlier have been brought under control.. The whole area has received up to 2-3 inches of rain. This will probably damp any fire activity...I suspect most of the individual spots are due to agricultural burnings.

Fires seem to have definitely passed a peak in the Top End of NT. Recent NAFI hotspots are much reduced in number and more 'spotty' than previous.

There are a few large fires flaring up near Tennant Creek. These look fairly large on hotspot imagery, and are near where previous fires have burnt this season.

15 August 2007

Kimberley fires

From ABC News

Authorities are monitoring a total of seven bushfires burning across national parks and reserves in the Kimberley in northern Western Australia.

The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) says the outbreaks are in inaccessible terrain and likely to burn for several weeks, until they reach low-fuel areas.

It is understood all of the fires have been deliberately lit.

Heavy smoke from one of the outbreaks, in the Yampi Field Training Area, led to the cancellation of tours to the popular Horizontal Waterfalls on the weekend.

Ed Hatherley from the DEC says the fires do not pose a threat to private property, but may damage the environment.

"What we're concerned about is the impact on the biodiversity of the region. The late, hot dry season fires are more extensive and they consume a lot more of the vegetative matter and habitat," he said.

This area has been quite active as of late and fires have been burning in the area for some time. Some of them have been quite large (see discussions here and image here).

Current (at time of this post!) NAFI hotspot image from the Kimberley shown below. At noted earlier many of these fires have been previously identified.

14 August 2007

Northern NSW fires continue

From ABC News

Dozens of fires continue to burn throughout the New South Wales north coast region, but cooler overnight conditions allowed many volunteers to get some rest.

Fifteen blazes are still burning in the Clarence Valley, while other areas of concern include Tenterfield and Kyogle.

Incident controller Peter McKechnie, from the Rural Fire Service, says one blaze at Helmet Mountain, 10 kilometres north of Kyogle, is being allowed to burn at this stage.

Oddly enough, I still haven't seen any hotspots associated with these fires...Perhaps there is something with the terrain...or they are just small-ish fires?

Some of the fires near Tenterfield were large, with two reported around 3000 ha burnt each, and another near 2000 ha. Use of water-bombing helicopters in some instances.

Some health impacts reported from the smoke
Health authorities say smoke from bushfires is causing air pollution levels to rise on the New South Wales north coast, which is a problem for residents with respiratory problems.

11 August 2007

Australian Fire Activity: 30 Jul - 8 Aug 2007

The image below is the latest 10-day composite from of hotspot from NASA. Dates of the composite are 30July to 8 August 2007. A more detailed discussion follws the image

General Subjective Impressions & comparison to STLY (same time last year)

More active this year

  • cape york esp western

  • SE QLD esp on plains

  • N NSW

  • broome area

  • Pilbara

  • Kimberley (a little...)

Less active this year

  • cooktown to townsville

  • top end

  • NE VIC

other regions are the same and/or currently non-active

Large and/or Significant Fires – subjective...based on rough estimate of size in NAFI and/or media reports


77800 ha

Still active

FR burn?

ESE of Tennant Creek

41000 ha (?)

no recent hotspots

ENE of Tennant Creek

61200 ha

no recent hotspots

Dampier (?) Peninsula (Broome)

158 000 ha

going, going...

midway between Broome-Fitzroy Crossing

87300 ha

few new hotspots

West Kimberly

4 large fires, prob all related to the large fire noted last time

largest: ~90 000ha

some are active, largest one is most active.

07 August 2007

NSW-QLD bushfires reported

Below is image captured from the Sentinel website of the hotspots in the northern NSW/ southern QLD region. Purple dots are the most recent hotspots (as of this afternoon) and yellow ones are 0-12 hours old.

Several media reports regarding bushfires in northern NSW today. All are from ABC News.

Bushfires burning in the Lismore, Kyogle and Richmond Valley areas of northern New South Wales are now beyond the control of local firefighting resources.

As of this evening, these fires are listed on the NSW RFS site as 'Being Controlled' or 'Contained'. Five separate incidents have burnt on the order of 700 ha. They are not visible on the hotspot image below (?)

It has been a busy start to the firefighting season on the New South Wales northern tablelands, with four blazes burning east of Armidale and Glen Innes.

These are listed NSW RFS site as 'Being Controlled'. A couple of them have burnt in excess of 1000 ha each. There are visible in the image, near the region marked with the blue '1'.

A second large area of fire is visible in the image in southern QLD by the blue '2'. The fire is burning in Barakula State Forest. A very dense smoke plume is also apparent with this fire. From NAFI, I roughly estimated the size of this fire at ~8000 ha. I have found no mention of it. Prescribed burn or wildfire is unclear, though the latter suspected.

Northeast NSW fires reported

Some reports of some significant fire activity on the QLD/NSW border tonight.
The firefighters are concentrating their efforts on two fires in Kyogle and a third fire in Lismore.

NSW Emergency Services Minister Nathan Rees says more than a dozen fires are burning in the north, including blazes in the Mooball National Park, Ferndale and Rowlands Creek areas of the Tweed and in the Kyogle area.

There are also fires west of Casino and in the New England region around Armidale and Glen Innes, he said.

"To help out, 10 heavy bushfire tankers and additional volunteer crews will be deployed to the areas tomorrow," Mr Rees said in a statement.

As this is being prepared, there are not too many hotspots apparent on the NAFI website in the region, but there doesn't seem to have been a recent satellite pass over the region. Will check again later and post any relevant image.

There are also several recent hotspots in southern QLD, but nothing reported in the media at this time

03 August 2007

NW WA fire picture

The image above is a real-time AQUA satellite image, captured on 19 July 2007. It shows the area in the West Kimberley that was to become the large fire noted in the last post. A pretty long smoke plume is seen coming from that region. The fires north of Broome and those south of Derby have quite thick smoke plumes.

In Arenhem Land, the western portion of the Top End also has a few visible plumes, streaming off to the northwest.

Higher resolution images are available: Link

02 August 2007

Australian Fire Activity: 20-29 July 2007

Here is the latest 10-day hotspot composite from thee MODIS satellite. The dates of the composite are 20-29 July 2007.

Compared to the last period, fires continue to be widespread across the Top End. There are perhaps less dense, more widely scattered patches of hotspots, suggesting a general 'lull' or decline in activity in the area. There are still large areas of fire, though.

There is an apparent increase in fire activity over the Cape York Peninsula, particularly in the western portions. The NAFI website suggests some large (~300 km2) regions of active fire.

The fire near Mt. Elizabeth in NW WA noted in the last report is quite visible on the composite map. Consulting NAFI, this fire looks to have burnt ~3800 km2. It is still producing a significant number of active hotspots at this time. See the accompanying image, from NAFI.

Also in WA, inland from Port Hedland in the Pilbara, there are some significant areas of fire. A couple of these were on the order of 1000 km2 burnt each.

SE QLD and N NSW continue to see widespread, isolated fires. These are likely fuel reduction burns or agricultural fires, although the fire incident noted a few days ago was the largest of the lot. It is apparently out now. Rough estimate:44 km2