Skip navigation

Fire news

Fires are part of life here in Australia. Many of our landscapes are fire adapted or fire reliant, and First Nations people have been using fire for millennia to manage and craft the landscapes we now live in.

However, climate change is driving ever more intense fire seasons. These newsletters provide weekly news updates that will be posted through the 2021/22 fire season.

Cockatoo_April_07.jpg

HEADER IMAGE: Geoff Browne. Other images are mostly photos from fires this summer in VIC.

Please feel free to send content for future issues: [email protected] The newsletter is published each Monday morning. Let me know if you'd like to go on the distribution list for future newsletters.

Scroll down for older issues.

Fire News update, #4 JAN 10, 2022

Current fires

 

Fires still burning in WA

A series of fires continue to burn in the south west, north west and central east of the state. The larger fires have now been contained (including the new breakout near Wooroloo).

https://www.emergency.wa.gov.au/#

 

Fires in the Gulf Country

Rohan Fisher, a North Australian fire scientist, reports that on January 9, a ‘massive, fast moving fire burnt through savanna woodlands’ in the Gulf Country. This was ‘an unseasonal high severity fire, not good to see. Scary for land managers and traditional owner's in the gulf region’.

 

‘Google launches bushfire feature to help users stay safe’

Google has announced that it has a new function on its Maps, which allows you to check local fire activity (you need to click on the Layer option when you are in Google Maps).

Google says ‘The new bushfire layer will help Australians to access official real-time bushfire information in a quicker and easier way.’

https://7news.com.au/technology/new-bushfires-near-me-google-maps-feature-launched-in-australia-c-4956918

 

Poolaijelo farming community on Victoria-SA border counts cost of New Year grassfire

A look at the costs and clean up from the recent fires on the SA/ Victorian border.

Thousands of livestock perished or have been destroyed. So awful for farmers: ‘Most devastating was the loss of livestock, largely sheep, including thousands that had to be destroyed after sustaining injuries in the fire’.

The fire also burnt into state forest that is home to the endangered red-tailed black cockatoo

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-01-02/victorian-border-farming-community-counts-cost-of-new-year-fire/100735120

 

Climate change and fires

 

Climate scientists grapple with wildfire disaster in their backyard

The wind-whipped firestorm that tore through parts of Boulder County, Colorado, on Thursday struck at the heart of one of America's top climate science and meteorology research hubs.

The Marshall Fire destroyed as many as 1,000 homes and may have killed two people, while leaving thousands of others homeless after tearing through Denver's northern suburbs of Superior, Louisville and Broomfield.

Climate researcher Russ Schumacher said climate change played a key role, noting that recent years have caused experts to rethink the meaning of "fire season" in Colorado.

https://www.axios.com/climate-scientists-colorado-wildfire-disaster-56480c87-2058-4df9-9266-24911cb0842a.html

 

Colorado Wildfire Destruction Was Caused by Embers Flung for Miles

It’s a familiar tale:

‘Communities far from flammable forests are increasingly at risk, as drought causes embers to burn hotter and travel farther’. (This may appear behind a pay wall).

https://www.wsj.com/articles/colorado-wildfire-destruction-was-caused-by-embers-flung-for-miles-11641470402

 

Forest regeneration funding misses burning issue

This story is a reminder about the impact of climate change driven fire regimes in our forests:

‘The Victorian government’s announcement late last year that it would commit $2.38 million to establish “best practice procedures” for management of regenerated timber-harvesting coupes is welcome, but misses the most important regeneration issue facing our forests – extensive forest loss caused by multiple, landscape-scale bushfires over the past 20 years.

‘The biggest threat to regeneration, and one that affects all forests, is frequent, severe bushfire – which can kill immature trees before they are old enough to set seed and regenerate naturally’.

‘This is a ticking time bomb in our forests, given the threat of increased fire risk in a rapidly changing climate. At least 140,000 ha of fire-killed ash forest is now in an immature condition in Victoria and at risk of forest loss if burned again within 20 years’. 

https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/forest-regeneration-funding-misses-burning-issue-20211227-p59k9j.html

 

Wildfires Are Digging Carbon-Spewing Holes in the Arctic

Soaring temperatures are rapidly thawing permafrost, leading to huge sinkholes called thermokarst. Northern fires are making the situation even worse.

‘A PERFECT STORM is ravaging the Arctic—literally. As the world warms, more lightning systems are igniting more peat fires. They burn through ancient buried plant material and release great plumes of greenhouse gases, which further warm the planet. At the same time, as plant species march north thanks to a more hospitable climate, the Arctic is greening. That darkens the landscape and absorbs more of the sun’s energy, further heating the region. It also provides more fuel to burn’.

https://www.wired.com/story/wildfires-are-digging-carbon-spewing-holes-in-the-arctic/

 

‘Drastic’ rise in high Arctic lightning has scientists worried

‘The high Arctic saw a dramatic rise in lightning in 2021 in what could be one of the most spectacular manifestations of the climate crisis.

With temperatures rising in the Arctic at three times the global average, tracking lightning in the region has become an important indicator of the climate crisis.

“A changing climate may increase the potential for lightning-triggered wildfires.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jan/07/lightning-high-arctic-rise-scientists-worried

 

It’s the same story here

In western Tasmania, ‘we reached a ‘tipping point’ sometime around the year 2000 and that, since then, there has been an increase in the number of lightning-caused fires and an increase in the average size of the fires, “resulting in a marked increase in the area burnt”.

A study, published in the academic journal Fire in 2018, warns the state’s heritage forests face rising threats because of the tendency toward drier summers and that the probability of “catastrophic” fires could increase as a result of more fuel igniting from lightning strikes.

https://themountainjournal.com/2018/11/05/something-changed-about-2000-tas-forests-threatened-by-catastrophic-bushfires/

 

Refugees fight fires to preserve Mauritania’s environment

Refugees from Mali and local Mauritanians have formed voluntary fire brigades to fight fires in Mauritania.

Mauritania in western Africa is already feeling the impacts of climate change. About 90 per cent of its territory is desert, making it especially vulnerable to the effects of deforestation and drought.

As the climate here has become hotter, the frequency of wildfires has increased at an alarming rate, posing a serious threat to the dwindling grass and tree cover. 

“We have never seen a year like this. This is the year with the most bushfires.” 

https://www.unhcr.org/news/stories/2021/11/61a626e74/refugees-fight-fires-preserve-mauritanias-environment.html

 

First Nations and fire

-

 

Fire culture

 

New CSIRO model to predict eucalypt bushfire behaviour will save lives

The CSIRO and the NSW Rural Fire Service have released a new model for predicting the speed and behaviour of eucalypt forest fires, which will ‘help save lives and properties during bushfires’.

The new mathematical description of how a fire responds to environmental conditions - labelled Vesta Mark 2 - will be rolled out nationally this summer and help fire control rooms across the country to predict and suppress bushfires as they spread across the landscape, and to warn the public.

https://www.theland.com.au/story/7569783/new-csiro-model-to-predict-eucalypt-bushfire-behaviour-will-save-lives/

 

Development of ultra-luxury Northern California resort stopped due to wildfire risk

This sort of thing is going to increasingly impact on decision making around planning here in Australia. This example is from California.

‘A judge stopped the development of a massive ultra-luxury resort in Northern California on Tuesday because developers failed to consider what would unfold if a wildfire exploded and thousands of guests had to escape raging flames.

“The recent history of wildfires has taught us that we need to be prepared for the next disaster,” Peter Broderick, a center attorney, wrote in a statement. “Part of that preparation is making sound land-use decisions and only approving developments that adequately address, not worsen, wildfire risks. Building in California’s fire-prone wildlands is dangerous for people and terrible for our imperiled wildlife.”

https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Lake-County-Guenoc-Valley-resort-wildfire-risk-16756752.php

 

Fire and community resilience

 

Two years on from the 2019/20 fires

January is a tough month for many people because two years ago, much of the south east of the country was on fire. There are so many significant dates across that summer, and especially during that month.

A timeline of the fires during the summer can be found here.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019–20_Australian_bushfire_season

 

 

This Isn’t the California I Married

What happens when you move somewhere because you fall in love with the landscape, but then find the land changing because of fire?

‘Living in California now meant accepting that fire was no longer an episodic hazard, like earthquakes. Wildfire was a constant, with us everywhere, every day, all year long

“We’re no longer dealing with a fire regime that responds to the kinds of mild prevention and mild responses we have thought about. It means the lives we had we no longer have.”

We can’t fix California’s wildfire problem with a big idea. We can only settle into the trans-​​​apocalypse and work for the best future, the best present. That starts with acknowledging that our political structures have failed us and keep failing us every day. 

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/03/magazine/california-widfires.html

 

Wildfire survivors face another threat: PTSD

As disasters become more frequent, acute stress can turn chronic.

This story looks at the impacts of repeat fire events on people in western USA. ‘Back-to-back disasters can undermine recovery, making it all the more likely that an acute stress response will develop into a chronic issue like PTSD.’ 

https://www.hcn.org/articles/wildfire-survivors-face-another-threat-ptsd

 

Fire and biodiversity

 

Google’s AI technology to identify animals impacted by bushfires

WWF-Australia and Conservation International, supported with a USD 1 million grant from Google’s philanthropic arm Google.org, have launched An Eye on Recovery, a large-scale collaborative camera sensor project.

The project will install more than 600 sensor cameras to monitor wildlife in landscapes impacted by last summer’s bushfires, including the Blue Mountains, East Gippsland, Kangaroo Island, and South East Queensland.

The first cameras have been installed on Kangaroo Island – where fires consumed half of the island – to monitor species like the critically endangered Kangaroo Island dunnart.

https://www.wwf.org.au/news/news/2020/googles-ai-technology-to-identify-animals-impacted-by-bushfires#gs.ksm5c4

 

Surprisingly few animals die in wildfires – and that means we can help more in the aftermath

‘Our new research, published today in Global Change Biology, suggests that, on average, the vast majority of animals (more than 90%) actually survive the immediate passage of a typical fire. But there are precious few studies of animal survival through catastrophic fires, such as those observed during Australia’s Black Summer. 

We urgently need data on how animals cope with megafires, given these are expected to increase in a warming world.

When you read a headline about the number of animals killed in fires, it can be easy to despair. 

That’s why we believe our research is good news. Why? Because it means there may be a narrow window of opportunity after fires to have a real impact, by helping animals survive the challenging post-fire period’.

https://theconversation.com/surprisingly-few-animals-die-in-wildfires-and-that-means-we-can-help-more-in-the-aftermath-174392

 

Bushfires helping cane toads thrive: study

Researchers at Sydney's Macquarie University have found that fires diminish the presence of tiny threadlike worms known as Rhabdias pseudosphaerocephala, which are the toad's natural enemy.

In effect, one of the biggest known threats to the survival of Australia's unique fauna would appear to be to the despised cane toad's advantage.

"At first sight, we might expect an intense fire to be deadly to an invasive amphibian such as the cane toad by killing them and drying out their habitats," said Professor Rick Shine from Macquarie's biology department. "However cane toads actively prefer relatively open habitats for foraging and thus can thrive in post-fire landscapes”.

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7574085/bushfires-helping-cane-toads-thrive-study/

 

Take action

 

Aircraft missing from Victoria’s bushfire response

It was reported last week in the Herald Sun that ‘Two large waterbombing helicopters ordered for the summer are still on their way to Victoria and have already missed the season’s largest fire so far.

Two large waterbombing helicopters ordered for the summer, a Boeing CH-47 Chinook and an Erickson Air Crane, are still on their way to Victoria.

The Bushfire Royal Commission recommended we invest in 'sovereign aerial firefighting capability', incl large helicopters. This highlights the problems with leasing these aircraft. They will get ever harder to secure in a world with longer fire seasons

 

Please take a minute to Support the call for a publicly owned air fleet to fight fires.

https://www.foe.org.au/firefighting

https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/aircraft-missing-from-victorias-bushfire-response/news-story/a9edde8c68256a91438c4e621d1a86b7?btr=1817cffc6bb8baffd975457472db57f8

 

How would we pay for this fleet?

The Australia Institute is proposing a National Climate Disaster Fund, funded by a levy of $1 per tonne of all coal gas and oil produced in Australia to help pay for some of the increasing costs of these climate disasters.

A $1 levy on fossil fuel production in Australia would currently raise around $1.5 billion a year for the National Climate Disaster Fund. While the Institute suggests the money generated could be allocated to sectors and communities which are affected by climate change, like First Nations and farmers, some of it could also be allocated to fire fighting capacity, including planes.

 

Support the call for additional firefighting resources to fight fires in national parks in Victoria.

https://www.melbournefoe.org.au/snow_gum_petition

 

Screen_Shot_2021-01-19_at_2.08.57_pm.png

Fire News update, #3. JAN 3, 2022

 

Current fires

After a slow start and mild summer across a lot of the country, we are now well into a serious fire season.

 

Fires in NW WA and the Top End.

Check the twitter account of Rohan Fisher, a fire scientist based in Darwin, for some incredible images from recent fires in the Pilbara, Great Sandy Desert and elsewhere in the North.

Onslow.jpg

IMAGE from Rohan Fisher: 'This fire from last Thursday - east of Onslow, Pilbara. Burning along dry drainage lines with fuel under extreme hot conditions'.

 

Heavy stock losses as fire races through farms, forest in western Victoria

There have been dangerous fires in South Australia and western Victoria in recent days.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-01-01/grassfire-burns-in-western-victoria/100734224

 

Fire in northern Victoria

There is still a ‘Watch and Act’ message for Barmah, Barmah East, Lower Moira, Picola, Yambuna in the north of Victoria. There is an active bushfire at Yambuna that is under control, but there are fears it may travel in a northerly direction from Yambuna towards Barmah because of strong winds which have been forecast for Monday.

20211205_160208.jpg

Large fire in Melbourne's north west

And in Melbourne, a large grassfire at a former ammunitions factory site in the north western suburbs threatened nearby houses. The fire was in Maribyrnong.

In a reminder of the 2019/20 season, the fire sent significant amounts of smoke across Melbourne's north west.

https://www.9news.com.au/national/large-fire-burning-at-old-factory-site-in-melbournes-north-west/d7a9ab8b-e108-4f90-8a5a-3be245e97b30

 

How climate change played key role in disastrous Colorado wildfires

Despite the fact that it is winter in the northern hemisphere, over the weekend, hundreds of homes have been destroyed in Superior, Colorado.

As with many climate change-amplified disasters, the conditions that set the stage for the explosive and fast-moving fires had been developing and intensifying in the months prior.

Information on the link between climate change and these fires.

https://abcnews.go.com/US/climate-change-played-key-role-disastrous-colorado-wildfires/

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/climate-change-primed-colorado-rare-december-wildfire-rcna10543

 

The Return of the Urban Firestorm

The Colorado fires occurred in a suburban area rather than a heavily forested urban fringe or rural area. ‘What happened in Colorado was something much scarier than a wildfire’.

‘By the standards of the megafires and gigafires of the last few years, the Marshall Fire was quite small — 6,000 acres, all told, once it was finally brought to an end by snowfall on New Year’s Eve. But following the driest and second-warmest fall in 150 years, the devastation was harrowing out of proportion to its scale, since unlike most wildfire it was not in wildland or forest but was — as the climate scientist Daniel Swain, who lives in Boulder, put it — an “urban firestorm.”

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2022/01/colorado-saw-the-return-of-the-urban-firestorm.html

 

And in a sad irony, snowfalls helped firefighters get on top of the Colorado fires.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/two-days-ago-colorado-was-fighting-catastrophic-fires-now-it-s-blanketed-by-snow/c8dd7857-aff2-499f-b344-f387b78b3a6e

 

Climate change and fires

 

Extreme weather communication guides

The Climate Council has released a new guide to communicating the influence of climate change on events like wildfires.

‘Climate change is supercharging our atmosphere and leading to more frequent and severe extreme weather events, such as bushfires, heatwaves, flooding and cyclones. Australians are paying the price in costs to their health, lost lives and livelihoods.

We’ve produced this communication guide so you can accurately explain the link between extreme weather events and climate change’.

https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/resources/extreme-weather-communication-guides/

 

Don’t let La Nina fool you, Black Summer could be around the corner

An opinion piece from Greg Mullins, Former Fire and Rescue NSW commissioner.

‘In the last 32 years the amount of land burnt by bushfires annually in Australia has increased by 800 per cent, and the scientists who established this say the increase is directly driven by human-caused climate change.

We cannot fall into complacency.

It will only take a flash-drought, a heatwave, an intense change of weather and the growth that has sprung up could turn into ominously heavy fuel loads for fires'.

https://www.theage.com.au/environment/climate-change/don-t-let-la-nina-fool-you-black-summer-could-be-around-the-corner-20211221-p59jdf.html

 

Why WA's south-west is drying out at one of the worst rates in the world

We know that climate change driven background warming and drying impacts on the severity of bushfire seasons.

‘As parts of Western Australia are tipped for another scorching hot summer, climate change is leaving a worrying footprint on the south-west of the state.

Experts agree the region is drying out at a globally significant rate.

Since the late 60s, rainfall in the region has declined by up to 20 per cent overall. “A hotter climate means you have more evaporation, drier soils soak up more waters and also trees need to use more water when it’s dry’.

In simple terms – a drier environment, which burns more easily and intensely.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-12-28/why-south-west-wa-is-drying-out/100625142

 

First Nations and fire

-

 

Fire culture

-

Fire and community resilience

 

Two years on from the 2019/20 fires

January is a tough month for many people because two years ago, much of the south east of the country was on fire. There are so many significant dates across that summer, and especially during that month.

A timeline of the fires during the summer can be found here.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019–20_Australian_bushfire_season

 

Black Summer revisited: meet the survivors of Australia's devastating 2019-2020 bushfires rebuilding their lives one day at a time

This looks at the impacts of the fires in SE NSW two years on.

‘Venturing into the burnt zone brings back many memories, some haunting, others abundantly enriching. The landscape is still scarred but is healing. And just as every fold in the landscape will renew itself at a different pace, so too will the people. 

‘As harrowing as the fires were, they did bring Australians together as a community and we should never forget that’. 

https://www.thecourier.com.au/story/7564385/if-hell-had-a-cathedral-it-would-look-like-this-two-years-on-fire-scars-healing/

 

The 2019-20 Bushfire History Project

This project was an initiative of the Royal Commission into the National Natural Disaster Arrangements. It provided an opportunity for people to record their personal experience and share photos and videos taken during the 2019-20 bushfires or the ongoing recovery. There are some excellent videos available on the website.

https://naturaldisaster.royalcommission.gov.au/2019-20-bushfire-history-project

 

Mice, floods, pandemic: South Coast hit with ongoing challenges two years after bushfires

There is so much in this story – the long term impacts of fire on individuals and communities, the sometimes short sighted and ad hoc nature of government support for fire affected areas, and the way that communities self organise after natural disasters.

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7548477/mice-floods-pandemic-south-coast-hit-with-ongoing-challenges-two-years-after-bushfires/

 

Fire and biodiversity

 

Sambar deer are destroying rainforest canopy trees in fire-affected regions

"We know these rainforests can recover from fire, but we also know deer have the capacity to interrupt those processes,"

"If sambar choose to thrash or antlers rub on these tree ferns, it may actually cause a localised extinction of this species."

This site has been prioritised by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) for deer control.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-12-27/sambar-deer-damage-rainforests-in-fire-ravaged-areas/100660722

20211228_141949.jpg

Fire News update, #2. DEC 26, 2021

 

Current fires

 

Bushfires in WA

Bushfires are threatening homes in the Perth Hills. Last night, authorities issued an emergency warning at 6.07pm for people in Wooroloo and Chidlow. People living in Warrigal Estate were advised to shelter in their homes as it was not safe to leave. Last night, multiple structures were on fire and residents were warned to“act immediately to survive” as the fire threatened “lives and homes.”

A second bushfire is threatening homes in the Augusta-Margaret River Shire, about 300 kilometres south of Perth. An emergency warning has been issued, and people have been ordered to evacuate.

 

Meanwhile, fires are still burning in the northern hemisphere …

After a horror summer across the northern hemisphere, some areas are still experiencing wild fires even though it is well into winter. In this instance, from Colorado, normally cold conditions have been replaced by warm temperatures and high winds blowing dust and fanning any fires that start.

https://www.outtherecolorado.com/news/blodgett-peak-fire-air-attack-underway-pre-evacuation-orders-remain/article_fa4f773d-567f-59ca-9296-eb9781d136cf.html

 

Fire news

A new Large Air Tanker

Australia relies on having access to Large Air Tankers (LATs) and large helicopters to be able to fight fires. The recent Bushfire Royal Commission report recommends the creation of a national aerial firefighting fleet, which can then be allocated to the states "according to greatest national need".

Given Australia currently relies heavily on overseas-based aircraft which are leased for the season, this makes sense.

We own one LAT (which belongs to the NSW Rural Fire Service). The federal government has secured a second LAT via a leasing arrangement which will be available year round. Two Black Hawk helicopters have also joined the west’s aerial firefighting fleet for the first time this season, on loan from the US and New Zealand.

This is a good move but still not enough. We need to own more planes.

https://thewest.com.au/news/new-weapon-to-fight-aussie-bushfires-kicks-off-service-in-wa-c-5065456

 

Please sign the letter to the PM here urging him to establish a publicly owned air fleet.

https://www.foe.org.au/firefighting

 

Climate change and fires

Scientists find climate-driven tree mortality and fuel aridity increase wildfire fuel availability

In short, the message of this research is that ‘more fire means more fire’.

‘New research conducted by scientists at The University of New Mexico suggests climate-driven tree mortality and fuel aridity are increasing fuel availability in forests leading to record-breaking wildfires in size, spread and plume formation.

In North America, wildfire activity has been increasing in large part due to climate change, which is increasing the amount of energy stored in biomass that can be released as heat during a wildfire. Drought stress, insect outbreaks, and temperature increases have caused large areas of tree mortality and rising temperatures are drying out forest fuels, making them more available to burn’.

https://news.unm.edu/news/unm-scientists-find-climate-driven-tree-mortality-and-fuel-aridity-increase-wildfire-fuel-availability

 

Bushfire Royal Commission accountability tracker

The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements was established on the 20th February 2020 in response to the horrific 2019/20 fire season. The final report was delivered to the Governor-General on the 28th October 2020, and tabled in Parliament on 30th October 2020.

The Federal Government released its response to the Royal Commission on Friday the 13th November 2020 and since Tuesday 2 February 2021 releases a document tracking its progress monthly. 

To help hold the Government to account on implementing the Royal Commission, we are highlighting 10 recommendations of the 80 and tracking their progress live.

https://emergencyleadersforclimateaction.org.au/bushfire-royal-commission-accountability-tracker/

 

The changing nature of bushfires is leaving emergency services with less relief at night

Firefighters are being forced to adapt to changing bushfire behaviour, as relentless winds and dry conditions mean they have less reprieve at night to get on top of out-of-control blazes.

Senior firefighters have noticed this pattern emerging at bushfires over the last few years and are recalibrating both mitigation strategies and the way fires are being fought. 

“The difference now is we're not getting any reprieve overnight" - WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) deputy commissioner of operations Craig Waters.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-12-24/the-changing-nature-of-bushfires-offers-less-reprieve-at-night/100718446

 

The planet is burning

This is a few years old but worth a read if you are not familiar with the term the ‘Pyrocene’.

‘As an idea, the Pyrocene gives us a usable narrative, a crisp analogy, and a new way to imagine our fast-morphing world.

We need to shut down as quickly as possible our binge-burning of fossil biomass and clean up as much of the mess as we can. A full-blown Fire Age will not be a pretty picture.’

https://aeon.co/essays/the-planet-is-burning-around-us-is-it-time-to-declare-the-pyrocene

 

First Nations and fire

Rekindling with Fire

 

This story is from North America.

‘My tribe, like many tribes, carefully stewarded the land, using tools like burning and implementing fire management. But our traditional practices were violently disrupted by colonialism and continue to be impeded by the U.S. government.

I was eager to see fire reclaim its rightful place within the landscape, eager to reclaim a role in stewarding the land the way my ancestors had, using fire as a tool to maintain the savanna’.

https://www.adventure-journal.com/2021/12/rekindling-with-fire/

 

Fire culture

It’s important we see first responders as the humans they are

Anyone who has worked on a fire ground will know that firefighters can see awful things. These can impact on you for years to come. The recent death of children in Devonport, and obvious terrible impact on first responders, is a reminder that we are all human, and that we need to look out for each other when we are exposed to trauma.

https://www.theage.com.au/national/it-s-important-we-see-first-responders-as-the-humans-they-are-20211221-p59j7f.html

 

Fire and community resilience

Black Summer bushfires led to 'huge health burden', researchers say

The 2019-20 bushfire season, in which 34 people died and more than five million hectares were burnt over six months, led to record readings for air pollution in NSW.

Breathing and heart problems surged during the Black Summer bushfire season, causing researchers to warn that  climate change requires better fire-prevention strategies to reduce health problems.

Small particles in bushfire smoke have been shown to result in increased cell damage and the smoke can led to lung inflammation.

https://amp-sbs-com-au.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/amp.sbs.com.au/eds/news/article/black-summer-bushfires-led-to-huge-health-burden-researchers-say/d544dd76-009a-4055-9eaa-e5dc526ab8d4?amp=1

 

Rising regional populations a challenge for bushfire protection

This is a phenomena across much of the country: people from large cities are moving to country areas and regional centres. Many people are not used to living with fire, and new housing is often exposed to considerable fire risk. This in turn is impacting on the ability of land managers to fight fires and carry out fuel reduction activity. This story is from Victoria:

‘Fast-growing communities living beside bushland on the Great Ocean Road, Daylesford and outskirts of Bendigo are among the groups of tree-changers causing fire management headaches for Forest Fire Management Victoria’.

https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/victoria/rising-regional-populations-a-challenge-for-bushfire-protection-20211223-p59jr6.html

 

Wildfire survivors face another threat: PTSD

As disasters like bushfires become more frequent, acute stress can turn chronic.

‘Extreme weather events are becoming both more frequent and severe, and now, the next fire, hurricane or flood often hits before the hard work of recovery is done. Trauma is already accumulating in some of the regions hit hardest by climate change’. 

‘Back-to-back disasters can undermine recovery, making it all the more likely that an acute stress response will develop into a chronic issue like PTSD’. 

https://www.hcn.org/articles/wildfire-survivors-face-another-threat-ptsd

 

 

 

Fire News update, #1. DEC 21, 2021

Current fires

 

Lutruwita/ Tasmania

Two bushfires are burning in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area near Eldon Range west of Lake St Clair and at Mt Rufus immediately west of Lake St Clair, following multiple dry lightning strikes on Saturday morning.

Further information > https://themountainjournal.com/2021/12/20/fires-in-tasmanian-world-heritage-areas/

 

Climate change and fires

Wildfires break carbon emission records

Wildfires produced a record amount of carbon emissions in parts of Siberia, the United States and Turkey this year, as climate change fanned unusually intense blazes, the European Union's Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service said on Monday.

Wildfires emitted 1.76 billion tonnes of carbon globally in 2021, Copernicus said. That's equivalent to more than double Germany's annual CO2 emissions.

https://www.inkl.com/news/from-siberia-to-the-u-s-wildfires-broke-emissions-records-this-year

 

What Do the Australian Black Summer Fires Signify for the Global Fire Crisis?

New research, published in the Fire Journal, shows that climate change is influencing fire seasons in Australia, and reducing the benefits of fuel reduction burning.

‘The fires produced large carbon emissions, burnt fire-sensitive ecosystems and exposed large areas to the risk of biodiversity decline by being too frequently burnt in the future. We argue that the rate of change in fire risk delivered by climate change is outstripping the capacity of our ecological and social systems to adapt’.

https://www.mdpi.com/2571-6255/4/4/97

 

Australia’s Black Summer of fire was not normal – and we can prove it

The Black Summer forest fires of 2019–2020 burned more than 24 million hectares, directly causing 33 deaths and almost 450 more from smoke inhalation.

But were these fires unprecedented? You might remember sceptics questioning the idea that the Black Summer fires really were worse than conflagrations like the 1939 Black Friday fires in Victoria.

We can now confidently say that these fires were far from normal. Our new analysis of Australian forest fire trends just published in Nature Communications confirms for the first time the Black Summer fires are part of a clear trend of worsening fire weather and ever-larger forest areas burned by fires.

https://blog.csiro.au/bushfires-linked-climate-change/

 

First Nations and fire

-

 

Fire culture

This is a tough week for many firefighters as it marks the anniversary of the deaths of two RFS volunteers who were killed on 19 December 2019 when their fire tanker rolled down an embankment. Another RFS volunteer sustained fatal injuries in a freak weather event on 30 December 2019.

https://knowledge.aidr.org.au/resources/black-summer-bushfires-nsw-2019-20/

 

Fire and community resilience

Building Community Resilience to Bushfires

The project focussed on the particular community of Kangaroo Valley and how members of that community prepared for, responded to and recovered from the impact of the Currowan  Bushfire that impacted the Valley on 4th of January 2020.

The researchers set out to document and activities and perspectives of members of that community and of other organisations regarding enhancement of community resilience bushfires.  The long-term aim was then to develop guidance and resources to help KV, and other communities prepare for, and recover from, possible future bushfires, or other emergencies.

https://www.uow.edu.au/global-challenges/building-resilient-communities/building-community-resilience-to-bushfires/

 

Fire and biodiversity

Victorian State of the Environment Biodiversity Update.

‘The severity, extent, frequency and duration of bushfires have all increased, fire seasons are now longer and more dangerous, and the window for fuel management is closing.

‘Many areas are now experiencing increased frequency of fires, the area of public forests below the minimum Tolerable Fire Interval (TFI) is increasing, and the area with a no burn history is decreasing. This threatens species and communities that lack resilience to fire’.

https://www.ces.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/publication-documents/Executive%20Summary%20-%20State%20of%20the%20Environment%20Biodiversity%20Update%202021%20Report_WEB.pdf

 

 

Background information

 

FoE’s resources on fire are available here >

https://www.melbournefoe.org.au/living_with_fire_in_the_pyrocene

 

Why we need additional aerial resources to fight fires.

https://www.foe.org.au/fires_and_air_support

 

General resources on climate change and fire (focus on SE Australia) . https://themountainjournal.com/environment/fire/

 

Climate Council resources on bushfires > https://www.climatecouncil.org.au/resources/?category=bushfires

 

Australian Firefighters for Climate Action facebook page > https://www.facebook.com/ausfca

 

Climate Council Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements ‘accountability tracker’. https://emergencyleadersforclimateaction.org.au/bushfire-royal-commission-accountability-tracker/

 

Fire and Culture Wars. We know that arson and ‘lack of fuel reduction’ is often used by conservative media to push back against the argument that climate change is making fire seasons worse. Resources here > https://www.foe.org.au/bushfire_disinformation

 

Take action

 

Fire as a threatening process

 

A draft Advice to the Minister for the Environment from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee on amendments to the List of Key Threatening Processes under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 recommends that fire be added to the list of threatening processes under the EPBC.

 

You can provide comment, and support this proposal (please do so before JAN 10).

 

https://www.awe.gov.au/node/18974

 

https://www.awe.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/fire-regimes-that-cause-biodiversity-decline-ktp.pdf

 

Support the call for a publicly owned air fleet to fight fires.

https://www.foe.org.au/firefighting

 

Support the call for additional firefighting resources to fight fires in national parks in Victoria.

https://www.melbournefoe.org.au/snow_gum_petition

 

 

Continue Reading

Read More