01 September 2009

NSW south coast

Current activity in NSW has suggests that the 2009-10 fire season will likely be a memorable one. The image, captured on 1 Sept 2009 around 1045am local time from the NASA Terra satellite, shows several fires burning along the NSW south coast.

The NSW RFS current incidents page notes several regions of concern at this time.

  • Eurobodalla – A fire near Tilba which has been burning for more than 4 days, threatened homes and burnt nearly 3 000 ha. These are the southern region of smoke in the image.

  • Shoalhaven-- 4 areas of concern are noted in the RFS dispatch. These fires are currently 'Being Controlled' although one fire remains listed as going. No human values are under direct threat at this time. One of these fire is a re-ignition of a previously controlled fire. This group of fires is the more northern plumes of smoke in the image.

Some of the fires in this region are the result of escaped fuel reduction burns lit by private property owners.

This region of Australia is currently experiencing a severe drought at this time. Soil moisture is very low and fire dangers are much higher than usually encountered at this time of year. There have been running fires in the region for more than a month throughout the region, much earlier than normal. The fire season has been officially declared a month early here. The fire control officer of the Shoalhaven district notes the unusual nature of these fires and the climate:

"In my 29 years with the service, I have not seen fire behaviour like I've seen in the last three weeks in my whole career," he said.

"There's something going on, fuels are very very dry and if this is an indication of what we are up against for summer, people will really need to be well prepared."

Given the developing El Nino in the Pacific, history suggests a long, severe fire season for this region.

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