Showing posts with label bushfires. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bushfires. Show all posts

Monday, 19 August 2019

Bushfire Danger Period has begun on NSW North Coast

It is still winter yet the 2019 bushfire danger period has begun on the NSW North Coast.
Time to make or update a Bushfire Survival Plan for your home.


By midday on 18 August 2019 the NSW Rural Fire Service reported that there were 58 bush or grass fires across the state, with 31 still to be contained.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Recent bushfires in Clarence Valley causing high air pollution

As of yesterday there were still sixteen fires burning across the Clarence Valley, according to the NSW Rural Fire Service. 

The Daily Examiner, 13 August 2019, p.5: 

 People with heart and respiratory conditions are being urged by the North Coast Public Health Unit to be careful as recent bush fires are causing high pollution.

Communities around Grafton may be particularly affected in the coming days, and Public Health North Coast assistant director Greg Bell said children, older adults and people with heart and lung conditions are most susceptible to air pollution and excessive smoke. 

“If you have asthma you should follow your Asthma Action Plan and take your relieving medication where necessary and if symptoms get worse, seek medical advice,” MrBell said. 

In case of emergency dial triple-0. Information about bushfire smoke and health:

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

The Fire Next Time: "Climate is a driver of wildfire and of fire full stop"

Image: Green Cross Australia

ABC News, 1 December 2018:

Both the bushfires and the heatwave ravaging parts of Queensland have been described as extraordinary and abnormal.

Bureau of Meteorology Queensland manager Bruce Gunn said records had tumbled in a week of widespread and protracted heatwave conditions, combined with catastrophic fire danger.

"On Wednesday, Rockhampton Airport recorded catastrophic [fire] conditions for approximately three-and-a-half hours," Mr Gunn said.

"This was the first time this district has recorded catastrophic conditions and the most prolonged event in Queensland since the implementation of the current Fire Danger Rating System in 2010."

Fire ecologist Philip Stewart said Queensland's fires of the past few days were historically unusual.

"When one looks at the charcoal records with Aboriginal burning, we haven't seen any indicators that show that there had been mass fires or large intense fires like we are seeing today, or 'mega-fires', as I would call them," Dr Stewart said.

"They're not something one would expect at this time, but then again, fires of this nature can occur anywhere, provided that there's the right climatic conditions and the right fuels and so on."

Dr Stewart said the intensity and the extent of the fires was abnormal, as was the time of year that they were occurring.

He said they were "absolutely" a result of climate change.

"Climate is a driver of wildfire and of fire full stop," Dr Stewart said.

"So when we start to see an increase in temperature, we start see an increase in energy availability in that atmosphere, and that obviously will increase the potential for high-intensity fires and fast fires as well."…..

"We have definitely seen over the past 10 to 15 years an earlier onset of burning and a later fire season as well," Dr Stewart said.

He said the fire seasons were starting to overlap, within Australia and globally, so sharing resources would become harder.

And the tropics burning this week demonstrated that even areas traditionally considered safe were at risk.

"I would say that wherever you are you should have a fire plan … even [in] urban areas as we've seen in Greece recently, right down to the coast, and in the Californian fires … there's always a possibility that a fire can get in unless it's a concrete jungle," he said……

Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) CEO Richard Thornton said past fires were not necessarily predictive of future bushfires, so people needed to consider the worst-case scenario for them.

"It's about forward planning and getting people to recognise the changing nature of risk," Dr Thornton said.

"I think what we can say more generally and this doesn't apply just to Queensland … is in the Australian context, if we have days that are in the 40s with very high winds and very low humidity, the chances of fire starting and becoming uncontrollable very quickly, is highly likely.

"On those days, communities need to be very vigilant and aware of the environment and what their plans are for those days, and whether it's going to be to leave early," he said.

Dr Stewart said he would like to see an increase in funding for fire management and crews.

"There is very little funding available for any proactive fire management and fire mitigation research.

"We need a lot more, especially in Queensland," Dr Stewart said.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

If you live in a NSW rural/regional area or an outer metropolitan suburb with thick tree cover.....

Now is the time to make or update your bushfire survival plan.

Because the fires have come early this year and intermittant rainfall is unlikely to ease the threat for long., 16 August 2018:

NSW has declared its earliest total fire ban on record, with hundreds of South Coast residents forced to flee their homes amidst a massive blaze.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that fire crews battled at least 83 fires across the state, following stronger-than-expected winds, creating fire bans that beat the previous record by two weeks. Compounding problems was the fact that, according to The Daily Telegraph ($), two huge water bombers were not in action because they had not yet arrived from the US ahead of Australia’s summer season.

Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology
New South Wales

Fire Weather Warning for the Greater Hunter, Greater Sydney Region and Illawarra/Shoalhaven fire areas.

Issued at 10:37 am EST on Wednesday 15 August 2018.

Weather Situation
Warm, dry and windy conditions over southeast NSW today ahead of a cold front,
which will pass to the south of the state overnight.

For the rest of Wednesday 15 August:

Severe Fire Danger is forecast for the following fire areas:
Greater Hunter, Greater Sydney Region and Illawarra/Shoalhaven

The NSW Rural Fire Service advises you to:
- Action your Bushfire Survival Plan now.
- Monitor the fire and weather situation through your local radio station, and
- Call 000 (Triple Zero) in an emergency.

The Rural Fire Service advises that if you are in an area of Severe Fire Danger:
- If you plan to leave finalise your options and leave early on the day
- Only stay if your home is well prepared and you can actively defend it
- Prepare for the emotional, mental and physical impact of defending your
property - if in doubt, leave.
For information on preparing for bushfires go to

No further warnings will be issued for this event, but the situation will
continue to be monitored and further warnings issued if necessary.

For up-to-date information for your local area see NSW Rural Fire Service’s  Fire Danger Ratings and Total Fire Bans and Fires Near Me.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Global fires affect Earth's methane emission levels

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), 4 January 2018:

A reduction in global burned area in the 2000s had an unexpectedly large impact on methane emissions.

A new NASA-led study has solved a puzzle involving the recent rise in atmospheric methane, a potent greenhouse gas, with a new calculation of emissions from global fires. The new study resolves what looked like irreconcilable differences in explanations for the increase.

Methane emissions have been rising sharply since 2006. Different research teams have produced viable estimates for two known sources of the increase: emissions from the oil and gas industry, and microbial production in wet tropical environments like marshes and rice paddies. But when these estimates were added to estimates of other sources, the sum was considerably more than the observed increase. In fact, each new estimate was large enough to explain the whole increase by itself.

Scientist John Worden of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and colleagues focused on fires because they're also changing globally. The area burned each year decreased about 12 percent between the early 2000s and the more recent period of 2007 to 2014, according to a new study using observations by NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer satellite instrument. The logical assumption would be that methane emissions from fires have decreased by about the same percentage. Using satellite measurements of methane and carbon monoxide, Worden's team found the real decrease in methane emissions was almost twice as much as that assumption would suggest.

When the research team subtracted this large decrease from the sum of all emissions, the methane budget balanced correctly, with room for both fossil fuel and wetland increases. The research is published in the journal Nature Communications.

* Atmospheric methane concentrations are given by their weight in teragrams.
* One teragram equals about 1.1 million U.S. tons -- more than the weight of 200,000 elephants.
* Methane emissions are increasing by about 25 teragrams a year, with total emissions currently around 550 teragrams a year.

Most methane molecules in the atmosphere don't have identifying features that reveal their origin. Tracking down their sources is a detective job involving multiple lines of evidence: measurements of other gases, chemical analyses, isotopic signatures, observations of land use, and more. "A fun thing about this study was combining all this different evidence to piece this puzzle together," Worden said.

Carbon isotopes in the methane molecules are one clue. Of the three methane sources examined in the new study, emissions from fires contain the largest percentage of heavy carbon isotopes, microbial emissions have the smallest, and fossil fuel emissions are in between. Another clue is ethane, which (like methane) is a component of natural gas. An increase in atmospheric ethane indicates increasing fossil fuel sources. Fires emit carbon monoxide as well as methane, and measurements of that gas are a final clue.

Worden's team used carbon monoxide and methane data from the Measurements of Pollutants in the Troposphere instrument on NASA's Terra satellite and the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer instrument on NASA's Aura to quantify fire emissions of methane. The results show these emissions have been decreasing much more rapidly than expected.

Combining isotopic evidence from ground surface measurements with the newly calculated fire emissions, the team showed that about 17 teragrams per year of the increase is due to fossil fuels, another 12 is from wetlands or rice farming, while fires are decreasing by about 4 teragrams per year. The three numbers combine to 25 teragrams a year -- the same as the observed increase.

Worden's coauthors are at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado; and the Netherlands Institute for Space Research and University of Utrecht, both in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Updated Jan. 3, 2018, at 1:40 p.m. to clarify weight in sidebar feature.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Is the NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government taking the Norther Rivers bushfire risk level seriously?

The NSW Nationals Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) manages more than 870 national parks and reserves totalling over 7 million hectares.

With 22 per cent of the Clarence Valley covered by heavily timbered national parks and the entire NSW Northern Rivers region having 10 national parks, at least 9 nature reserves and 2 state forests, the risk of bushfires has always been high.

With climate change raising the fire risk and the NSW Berejiklian Coalition Government stripping the NWPS of personnel and funding, many local residents are beginning to worry.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The NSW Government’s Latest Attack On The Environment

How important is protection of the natural environment to the NSW Government? 
Many in the community believe that the Government gives it a very low priority.   There are even some who would assert that the NSW Coalition Government is conducting a war on the environment.
Concern about the Government’s environmental attitudes is the inevitable result of a series of its policies and legislation over recent years.  A few examples are its original very strong support for CSG and unconventional gas mining[1], its weakening of land-clearing and biodiversity protection laws[2], its strong support of coal mine expansions despite community opposition[3], and more recently, its plan to change the law to enable Lithgow’s Springvale Mine to stay open despite its threat to Sydney’s water catchment[4].
The latest major threat to the natural environment in NSW is the re-structure of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).  The National Parks and Wildlife Service, a part of the Office of Environment and Heritage,  manages more than 870 national parks and reserves covering over 7 million hectares of land  which is more than 9% of the state’s land area.
The restructure which is currently under way involves the amalgamation of administrative areas, and either the loss of experienced officers or their demotion to what will be little more than clerical roles with substantially reduced salaries.  In addition there are serious concerns about the effect of the changes on fire-fighting capacity as well as on pest management.
The changes resulting from this restructure will have serious effects throughout the state.
Grafton on the NSW North Coast, for years an administrative centre for NPWS, will lose that function. Despite Grafton’s location in the geographical centre of the new region, the administrative headquarters is being transferred to Coffs Harbour. 
Clarence Valley locals, having seen over recent years the steady transfer of state government jobs from Grafton to Coffs Harbour, are angry about this.  What makes this decision even more nonsensical to some Clarence residents is that the Clarence Valley LGA (Local Government Area) contains one of the biggest areas of national parks on the North Coast.  Clarence Valley Mayor, Cr Jim Simmons, pointed out recently that the Clarence had 2,262 sq km of national parks, 22% of the Council area, while Coffs Harbour, has only 42 sq km – a mere 4% of the Coffs council area.
While there is concern about job losses, the loss of expertise in the Service and the impact of this drawn-out and unfair process on the Service officers, there is another major concern – the long-term effect on our very important national parks estate.  Despite the claims by politicians, including the Nationals Member for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis, this is a cost-cutting exercise at a time when the Government has boasted about a record budget surplus of $4.5 billion.  Any claim that it is not cost-cutting when the NPWS budget has been reduced by $121 million is obviously ludicrous.
However, it is probably more than just a cost-cutting exercise.  It is almost certain that it is at least partly driven by the ideology of the Coalition Government a core part of which, according to John Menadue[5], is commercializing and privatising public assets.
With reference to this, Menadue said: “A clear case at the moment is the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. It is being deliberately underfunded and forced to seek private funding and promoting commercial access to public parks.
“Yet this is happening when, with growing population density, we have a greatly increased need for public parks, gardens and open space. Furthermore, we were able to fund our public parks for decades in the past when we were much poorer than we are today. We need to protect our parks more than ever and we have more money to do so. Yet state governments are screwing national parks with funds to force commercialization and privatization.”
In the same post Menadue quoted figures from John Benson about the downgrading of the NPWS[6]. The number of rangers has been reduced by more than 90 over seven years. Only two of 14 regional managers have been appointed after a restructure and a similar threat faces critical staff at the area management level. Staff is so reduced in some regions that basic amenities cannot be maintained and a lack of field staff presence disappoints public visitor expectations.”
Despite all the spin from politicians and bureaucrats, it is obvious that the government intends to downgrade our national parks and is setting up the National Parks and Wildlife Service for failure. If the community, including that in our local area, does not protest vehemently enough, we will be stuck with this vandalism until this arrogant government is removed.
Northern Rivers

[1] In particular for Metgasco in the Northern Rivers – until the very strong community opposition forced a buy-back of the Metgasco licence.
[2] The 2016 Biodiversity Conservation Act and Local Land Services Amendment Act. There are strong concerns that this legislation will lead to huge biodiversity loss and allow broadscale land clearing.
[6] John Benson’s post on Menadue’s blog -  provides an interesting view of the former world class quality of the NSW national parks estate and its current decline.

GuestSpeak is a feature of North Coast Voices allowing Northern Rivers residents to make satirical or serious comment on issues that concern them. Posts of 250-300 words or less can be submitted to ncvguestspeak AT for consideration. Longer posts will be considered on topical subjects.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Out of control Yuraygir fire covers 2,351ha by 6pm, 31 January 2017

Giant plume from the Fannings Trail fire near Sandon east of Grafton lights up the midnight sky
 from the lookout at Brooms Head on Monday, 30th January, 2016: 
The Daily Examiner 31 January 2017

Only three fires were burning in the Clarence Valley on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 – two small and one large. A grass fire at Lanitza, a bushfire at Candole State Forest in the Powells Gap Rd area and, another bush fire across 2,351 ha of Yuraygir National Park in the Fanning Trail area alight since Monday morning.

Sadly there are suspicions that the state forest and national park fires may have been deliberately lit.

As the Bureau of Meteorology is predicting lower than average rainfall in parts of eastern Australia with temperatures above average though to at least April, the likelihood of more fires cannot be ruled out.

Let’s all make sure that any further fires are from natural weather events such as lightning strikes - by making sure we keep our own fires in our kitchens where they belong it hot windy weather ,as well as keeping a sharp eye out for suspicious activity in bushland or parks and reporting incidents to local police and if necessary the fire brigade.

To report a fire emergency

Call Triple Zero (000)
If you are deaf or have a speech or hearing impairment call 106

For assistance with distressed or injured wildlife call 13 000 WIRES or 1300 094 737 (Grafton and Yamba)

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Not Happy, Richie!

If this  account is factual then it seems there is no good deed that Clarence Valley Council is not prepared to punish.....


Clarence Valley Council issued this statement on 20 October 2014 but did not send it to North Coast Voices until after publication:

Clarence Valley Council environment, planning and community director, Des Schroder, said fining people was always a last resort and it was disappointing they needed to be issued on this occasion. He said council rangers and staff from State Government agencies had been called to the site a number of times and at all hours. “We have an obligation to take action to stop stock getting onto roadways – particularly highways – where they can pose a serious risk to the travelling public,” he said. He said council staff had spoken with the stock owner this morning and advised him that if he wanted to contest the fines he could do that through the State Debt Recovery Office and the courts.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Disused coal mine still burning after fifteen days

Australian Mining 20 February 2014:

Expert fire fighting crews have been brought in from interstate to help battle the blaze burning at Hazelwood open cut coal mine.
Sparked by fires which gripped Victoria on February 9, the coal mine blaze has caused issues for residents in the Morwell area with smoke and ash forcing some people to relocate temporarily.
Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said while fire suppression strategies had been successful, it was a complex environment for firefighters to contend with, ABC reported.
Firefighters from New South Wales have been brought in to help the 200 people already trying to put out the fire.....
Meanwhile thick smoke and ash has led to some local residents leave their homes with a respite centre open to take people in.
"I've quit cigarettes and I feel like I'm going through a pack a day,"  Anne-Marie Simpson said of the smoke.
A plan to evacuate to town of Morwell has been suspended, but children will be bussed to other schools from tomorrow.....

11 FEBRUARY 2014


TUESDAY, 25 FEBRUARY 2014 07:01

Latrobe Crime Investigation Unit and Arson and Explosive Squad detectives are seeking public assistance in relation to the Hazelwood open cut mine fire.
The fire, which has been burning for more than two weeks, is believed to have started at a site on the Strzelecki Highway between Morwell and Mirboo North on 9 February at around 1.30pm.
An arson chemist has attended and police are treating the fire as suspicious.
The fire progressed along the Strzelecki Highway through the HVP timber plantation, causing significant damage to plantations, fences and structures, before making its way into the Hazelwood open cut mine where it continues to burn.
There were also a number of smaller suspicious grass fires around the immediate area in Yinnar, Hazelwood and Boolarra on 28 January and again on the morning of 9 February.
Investigators believe an arsonist may be active in the area and could continue to light fires on high fire danger days.
Police wish to speak to anyone who witnessed any suspicious behaviour in these areas and urge anyone who believes they may know the person responsible to contact police.
Anyone with information about the fire is to asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit
Inspector Ian Geddes
Manager Media Unit
VP32189/2014 – 6892

The Australian 28 February 2014:

THE elderly, young children, pregnant women and people with lung problems are being advised to leave the worst-affected area near the Hazelwood coal mine fire, in a major escalation of the crisis in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley.
The move comes amid growing alarm in Morwell over rising carbon monoxide levels, ash and smoke from a fire that’s been burning for almost three weeks.
Authorities are advising vulnerable residents in the southern part of Morwell to move temporarily, with the fire in the open-cut mine expected to continue to blanket Morwell in thick smoke and ash for at least another 10 days.
However angry locals heckled Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Rosemary Lester during her announcement, which she says follows consistently poor air quality in Morwell South.
Some residents demanded to know why the relocation advice was only being issued now and why it didn’t extend to the whole of Morwell.
“How about some truth instead of bullshit,’’ one man yelled at Dr Lester.
“We can’t sleep, we can’t go outside, we can’t breathe,’’ said one woman through tears.
“You can’t continue to allow this to happen.’’
Dr Lester admitted it was “unclear’’ what the medium effects of the smoke could be, but stressed it was only people over 65, children under five, pregnant women and people with pre-existing heart and lung conditions who should heed the advice to leave.
Fire authorities predict the blaze, which has been burning in an open-cut coal mine for almost three weeks, will continue to produce significant smoke and ash for at least another 10 days.....

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Bushfires expose O'Farrell Government budget cuts

Media Release – Fire Stations closed as Sydney burns

September 10, 2013 

Bushfires expose O’Farrell Government budget cuts: Off-duty crews called-in due to five stations being closed

NSW Government budget cuts have meant that when today’s bushfire emergency hit, five Sydney fire stations were closed, and resources had already been diverted from four others.
The Fire Brigade Employees’ Union said fire stations in Camden, Riverwood, Miranda, Mona Vale and Ryde were all closed due to budget cuts today, requiring Macquarie Fields, Ashfield, Botany and Newtown to be left vacant as crews were sent to cover their areas, while Ryde was not covered at all.
As today’s bushfire emergency hit — with multiple fires in Western Sydney, the Hawkesbury, Blue Mountains and the Central Coast — Fire and Rescue NSW has had to recall off-duty firefighters to cover the gaps and closures.
At Castlereagh, where a large fire is impacting rural properties, the local fire station was also closed on both Sunday and Monday this week.
FBEU secretary Jim Casey said the nature of these bushfires had shown just how irresponsible the O’Farrell Government’s policy of closing fire stations was.
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that hot weather and strong winds can mean bushfires, but it appears to be news to the O’Farrell Government who have been caught with their pants down today,” Mr Casey said.
“Off-duty fire crews had to be called in as neighbouring stations raced to protect life and property, all because budget cuts have left large areas of Sydney without adequate fire protection.
“Budget cuts and the irresponsible policy of closing fire stations meant that as fire conditions developed into a major emergency today, fire stations across the city were shut.
“With fire stations closed, it only takes one major incident in Sydney — like a serious house or factory fire — and resources would be overstretched.”
Mr Casey said the State Government’s reckless approach to public safety was unsustainable, with today’s blazes catching them out well before the official start of the fire season.
“We have been warning the community and the Government about this for some time,” Mr Casey said.
“Fire stations, like all emergency services, are there for a reason — to respond quickly and on short notice.
“Current budget cuts mean the State Government are treating fire protection like a game of musical chairs, shuffling resources around the city and hoping they aren’t caught out.
“At some stage the music will stop and they will be left exposed, with communities around Sydney and the State the ones that will suffer.
“The FBEU is urging the NSW Government to lift these budget cuts and end the practice of temporarily closing fire stations, especially with the experts warning of a dangerous fire season ahead.”
Jim Casey
State Secretary
Tuesday 10 September 2013