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This is a weekly newsletter put out from December each year through the fire season.

More recent editions at the top, please scroll down for older issues.

Fire News update, #18, April 24, 2023

This is the last newsletter for the season. Thanks for your interest. As always, I welcome feedback. See you at the start of the next southern season!

During the cooler months you may want to keep in touch via the Australian Firefighters Climate Alliance (website, facebook, and Instagram).

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. This newsletter provides a weekly update on news relating to fire, climate, community and natural resilience, and land management. It is sent out each Monday morning during fire season.

I would welcome your feedback, any content you would like to see included in the next bulletin, and you passing this on to fellow fire nerds. Please let me know if you’d like to go on the mailing list. You can also sign up here.

Previous copies of the newsletter (2021/22 season) are archived here. Newsletters from the current 2022/23 season are available here.


Cam Walker


Get in touch

0419 338 047 / Twitter:  Cam_Walker / E: [email protected] / W: /


Current and recent fires

‘People are busy in the Kimberley ATM, getting in their burns whilst conditions are mild Check out this #Sentinel2 image from yesterday- super patchy burns, some incendiaries taking, most not. Better to underburn than lose a fire. A fine balance of fire weather and fuel conditions’.


The next El Niño: when is it coming and how strong might this one be for Australia?

The talk has long been that next summer could see an intense fire season after three mild summers. But it is still too far out to know what things will be like.

‘Climate models from weather agencies around the globe surveyed by the Bureau of Meteorology are all showing that, by August, temperatures in the central equatorial Pacific will have risen to at least 0.8C above average – putting them into El Niño territory.


Around the world:

‘A look from Earth orbit of a wildfire in Scotland today (April 21). Wildfire season in the U.K. is underway, with a few fires popping up around the region. France and Spain have been busy this month so far as well.’



Fire season continues to rage in the eastern USA.

WOW don't ever remember seeing pyrocumulonimbus growing up on the east coast. The Great Lake fire’.

Source: Wildfire world on facebook



First Nations and fire


A dive into the deep past reveals Indigenous burning helped suppress bushfires 10,000 years ago

‘Indigenous Australians have conducted cultural burning for at least ten millenia and the practice helped reduce bushfire risk in the past, our new research shows.

The study provides more evidence of the very long history of cultural burning in southeast Australia. While the burning was probably not specifically used to manage bushfires, our data suggest it nonetheless reduced fire extremes. ‘


Wurundjeri Narrap Rangers carry out cultural burn

‘The Narrap team conducted a cultural burns on a very significant place for Wurundjeri people at Mt William.

The team were very excited to be returning Fire to country

A big thanks to FFMV Broadford crew for showing up to support the Narrap rangers’.

Image below: Narrap team burn at Mt William


Fire culture


Thriving in Emergency Services | Mental Health and Wellbeing Forum

Tuesday 6 June 2023 | 9.00am - 2.00pm AWST

During this mental health and wellbeing forum participants will hear about Thrive at Work and SMART Work Design undertaken by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, WA (DFES) to improve their workforce’s mental health.

The Thrive at Work initiative looks at how to take employees, organisations and industry beyond wellbeing and towards thriving. Learn about Thrive at Work and its underpinning world-leading framework applied within an emergency services context. Gain an understanding of how this evidence-based framework can provide organisations with a road map towards focusing on mental health, wellbeing and promoting thriving. 

This is a free AFAC event, participants are welcome to attend in-person in Perth or virtually online.

You can register here


Annual Firefighter Memorial Service

The CFAs Annual Firefighter Memorial Service will be held on Sunday 7 May in Mt Macedon to honour the 80 firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

This event is a way to pay respects to those who have fallen while serving their communities, and provides the opportunity for family, friends and colleagues to reflect and remember.

The service is held every year close to International Firefighters’ Day (St Florians Day) on 4 May - a global event started by CFA members in 1999 following the tragic death of five firefighters in Linton the previous year. This year’s memorial service will mark the 34th event.

The 2023 Annual Memorial Service for Firefighters is a free event, to attend please send an email to [email protected] or phone 0401 944 349 by Monday 1 May 2023. Tickets are limited due to venue capacity.


Bushfire-fighting chemicals stunt, kill frogs: study

New-generation bushfire-fighting chemicals can severely stunt the development of frogs or kill them, a new Queensland study shows.

Researchers from Griffith University have assessed two chemicals (Phos-Chek LC95W and BlazeTamer380) which are used as alternatives to toxic and highly persistent substances called PFAS.


XPRIZE Wildfire: The $11M Prize for Wildfire AI Systems and Drone Innovation.

This is an update from the HOTSHOT WAKE UP podcast about a competition to radically ramp up the use of artificial intelligence to identify early starts on fires.

‘Welcome to the future… There are autonomous drone ships flying above our Forests trying to detect wildfires. These unmanned craft are constantly overhead, scanning and communicating with an ever-growing number of wildfire satellites and self-integrating into public camera systems. Once the AI systems detect a fire, they launch a drone helicopter which quickly joins the swarming symphony of non-human equipment. High-definition surveillance camera systems collect data and analyze weather and potential spread patterns of the new start as the drone helicopter makes its first drop. This is literally right around the corner, and there is an $11M prize for those who can make it happen. XPRIZE is hosting a competition to create new autonomous wildfire systems and AI-driven solutions’.


Above: an autonomous drone


Fire and biodiversity


Countering Omitted Evidence of Variable Historical Forests and Fire Regime in Western USA Dry Forests

This is a significant bit of work, looking at pre invasion forests in the west of what is now the USA and how they have changed over time.

‘The structure and fire regime of pre-industrial (historical) dry forests over ~26 million ha of the western USA is of growing importance because wildfires are increasing and spilling over into communities’.

It looks at the two theories of how these forests have changed over time and argues strongly for the “mixed-severity” model, which says that dry forests were heterogeneous, with both low and high tree densities and a mixture of fire severities. That is, they were not a single unit of very similar forests, they were diverse, with localised variation in fire severity.

Fire news update, #17, April 17, 2023

Current and recent fires


Last week: QLD has been experiencing high fire danger in the south east lately. This has been due to unseasonably warm conditions in the north due to northerly winds and warm sea surface temperatures.


Early start to fire season in the USA (especially the east).

Hotshot Wakeup Call (a podcast) does a summary of what’s happening each week.


And China


And South Korea

Hundreds flee from wildfire in South Korean seaside city of Gangneung

APRIL 11: Hundreds of South Koreans were forced to flee a wildfire fuelled by strong winds that burned parts of an eastern coastal city, destroying dozens of homes before being slowed by rain.

It took eight hours and nearly 3,000 firefighters to put out the blaze that started on a mountain in a central part of Gangneung


One step ahead of wildfires: how Greece helped Portugal tackle the blaze

With Europe experiencing ever worse fire season, this has some interesting insights into cross border collaboration in fire fighting efforts.


Climate change and fires


More Than a Decade of Megadrought Brought a Summer of Megafires to Chile

As relentless drought dries out subsistence farmers’ wells, vast eucalyptus and pine plantations, remnants of the Pinochet dictatorship, are torching their communities.

An indepth look at why last summer’s fires were so bad in Chile


‘Carbon Bomb Detonated’ at Kooparoona Niara

Hundreds of tonnes of wasted wood at an area of high conservation value forest at Quamby Bluff on the boundary of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area have been torched by Forestry Tasmania (trading as ‘Sustainable Timber Tasmania’ (FT/STT)).

“Autumn in lutruwita/Tasmania is the season of logging fires, when thousands of tonnes of wasted wood and trashed forest is needlessly burned to get it out of the way, dumping the pollution and CO2 emissions into the public airspace. FT/STT intends to inflict more than 200 logging fires on the community this season alone.


First Nations and fire


How Native American traditions control wildfires

This story delves into some of the conversation about cultural versus prescribed burning.

‘As California looks to a climate-altered future, Tripp echoes Harling in emphasizing the fire-dependent nature of the state’s ecosystems. “The fact is, it's going to burn under the conditions that we choose for it to burn in, or it's going to burn in the conditions that nature or a careless match or cigarette butt or power line transformer decides,” he said. That means that part of the task of managing California fire is changing the population’s relationship to it. ‘


Fire culture


Nature Conservation Council of NSW's Bushfire Conference 2023


Dates: Wednesday 24th and Thursday 25th May

Location: NSW Teachers Federation Conference Centre, Sydney

Field day: Ku-ring-gai Field Day on Friday 26th May

Get your tickets here!

The first confirmed speakers for our 13th Biennial Bushfire Conference have been announced! Take a look at our initial line-up of presenters below:


Firstly, we are delighted to announce that NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Rob Rogers ASFM will be delivering an address at the opening of this year's conference. 

Furthermore, this year's conference will include a great set of keynote speakers that are sure to deliver some high-impact presentations that simply can't be missed! These include: 

  • Oliver Costello(Jagun Alliance Aboriginal Corporation)
  • Dr Sarah Harris(Country Fire Authority)
  • Prof David Lindenmayer (The Australian National University)
  • A/Prof Lauren Bennett (The University of Melbourne)
  • Prof Euan Ritchie (Deakin University)

In addition, some fascinating presentations are set to be delivered by:

  • Dr Philip Zylstra (Curtin University)
  • Leanne King (Koori Country Cultural Fire Aboriginal Corporation, Djurali Pty Ltd)
  • Prof Ross Bradstock (NSW Department of Planning and Environment)
  • Dr Angie Haslem (La Trobe University)

We are also very happy to announce that the conference panel will be chaired by Greg Mullins AO AFSM, former Commissioner Fire & Rescue NSW; Former AFAC President; Founder, Emergency Leaders for Climate Action; Climate Councillor; member NSW Bushfire Coordinating Committee; RFS Group Officer and Member NCC Bushfire Advisory Committee. 

Stay tuned for further emails as more speakers are announced. Let us know on social media - who are you most excited to hear from and why?

Get your tickets here!


New Mexico to limit prescribed burning

A Bill has been going through a committee in the New Mexico Senate to ban prescribed fires for several months now. The Bill was introduced by Republican representative Ron Griggs and last week signed into Law by Democrat Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. The Bill was amended into its final form before the government signed it.

Initially, the Bill would have banned prescribed fire outright in certain months of the year and added other restrictions. The amended Bill, now law, prohibits prescribed burning when a state forester, county, or municipality issues restrictions prohibiting a prescribed burn because of drought or wind conditions.

It also outright bans prescribed burning if the National Weather Service issues a Red Flag Warning.


How do we know that aerial firefighting operations are effective and efficient?

Natural Hazards Research Australia has announced a call for Expressions of Interest for new research that will help assess whether aerial firefighting operations are effective and efficient.

The use of aircraft in firefighting is one of the most expensive components of response and mitigation, with an underdeveloped evidence base. While there is evidence that aerial suppression is highly effective for initial fire attack, there is much less for more specific objectives, such as property protection, stopping or slowing fire progression, and during extended attack operations. The ability to effectively evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of the aerial firefighting fleet remains a long-standing challenge of the sector. With better information, fire authorities can obtain and deploy the most suitable aerial firefighting aircraft based on the operating environment and the task at hand.


Fire and community resilience


Residents lodge complaints, leave Maydena due to regeneration burns nearby

Residents of a rural Tasmanian town were told to either leave, or wear masks, when dense "acrid" smoke blanketed the valley following more than 115 hectares of post-native forest logging regeneration burns nearby.

Businesses in Maydena – reliant on mountain bike trails in the surrounding hills – have raised concerns about widespread cancellations in the lead-up to the Easter long weekend, while elderly residents said the density of the smoke temporarily exacerbated health issues.


How to prepare a home for Wildfire Smoke

This article is from Oregon and covers both earthquakes and bushfire smoke.

Extreme wildfire events are becoming more prevalent in the western United States, and the resulting smoke—a mix of particulate matter and gases—can have serious health effects, especially for at-risk populations


Fire News update, #16. April 3, 2023

Current and recent fires

While fire season is tapering off in the south east, a lot of the country is still very dry. It could be a late end to the formal season.


Fuel reduction burning in the north west

WA_burning.jpgCheck out the early dry season burning across the Kimberley atm. This is massive landscape-scale effort putting in burns when conditions are mild. A big wet season has left the country green, good time to burn and reduce fuels before things get hot + dry.

Burning shown is largely on indigenous estate, led by indigenous ranger groups.


Russia faces shortfall of firefighters and equipment

In an unlikely impact of the war being waged by Russia on Ukraine, Wildfire Magazine has run a special on the problems that are likely to confront Russia due to shortfalls in people and equipment for fighting fires.

There has been an increase in wildfires in Russia since the 1990s, and authorities have struggled to build capacity to fight them successfully. Now the war, and resulting sanctions are expected to lead to problems with availability of firefighters and equipment and potentially technology during the 2023 fire season. And while state investment in firefighting has increased in recent years, it is not yet clear if funding will be able to be continued at current levels given the impacts of the war on the Russian economy.


Early start to USA season continues

As the western mountains continue to experience record breaking snow falls (17 metres in some areas!), red flag warnings for fire weather are being issued in other parts of the USA because of ‘strong winds, dry fuel, and low relatively humidity’.

In Colorado last friday and saturday, evacuation orders were issued for sections of Colorado. These were still in effect yesterday.


And Europe

There was a significant wildfire in Tende, France yesterday. High winds fueled the fire in the French Alps. It is a sign that France’s wildfire season is starting. They had a very busy season last year.


Climate change and fires


Tasmania's Forest Carbon: Documentary Premiere

WED April 19

The Tree Projects would love to welcome you to our Premiere event of our new documentary called 'Tasmania's Forest Carbon'. This film is based on our ground-breaking report from last year which found that native forest logging in Tasmania is the state's highest emitting sector.

The half hour documentary outlines why our forests are important for the climate, how native forest logging is causing signficant emissions, and outlines simple solutions to how we can both protect the climate and our forests.

The film will be followed by a Q and A session with leading carbon experts and the film maker.

We would love to have you join us.


Moving Into The Flames

As climate refugees flee extreme weather events, they’re relocating to wildfire-prone areas

Relocations out of dense U.S. cities increased in 2020 by 17 percent, according to a Pew Trusts analysis, equating to nearly 3 million people. Since cities were shut down and some companies made work-from-home directives mandatory during the pandemic, rural western states became appealing.

What’s striking is that people are vacating other locales with extreme weather events—hurricane zones and those affected by flooding, for example—in favor of other parts of the U.S.: southwestern cities with infernal heat and areas like the Mountain West that are seeing bigger, hotter and more destructive wildland fires. It’s not because these places are getting hotter and burning, rather that the risks don’t seem to outweigh the perceived rewards.


First Nations and fire


Cultural burning is safer for koalas and better for people too

Koalas are an iconic endangered species living in a fire-prone environment. This makes them an ideal subject when investigating solutions to wildfires.

We explored how koalas fared before and after cultural burns on Minjerribah island (also known as North Stradbroke Island), near Brisbane on Quandamooka Country.

We used heat-seeking drones to assess population density and collected koala droppings to check hormone levels. We found cultural burns had no detectable effect on these parameters.


Cultural burning expansion to reduce bushfire risk

‘Indigenous groups will conduct cultural burns across Victoria to reduce bushfire risk and protect habitat in an expansion of the practice across the state.

The burns will be carried out by Indigenous corporations under a grants program designed to support the state’s efforts towards Aboriginal self-determination.

Forest Fire Management Victoria’s Jarrod Hayse said the grants would enable traditional owners to take the lead in cultural burning on their lands and reduce bushfire risk.’


Fire culture


Off-road farm vehicles catch alight, sparking blazes in New South Wales

A popular farm vehicle is behind a growing number of fires across New South Wales, as farmers warn grass and other debris is getting caught in the mechanics.

NSW Farmers and NSW Rural Fire Service members are backing calls for manufacturers of side-by-sides in Australia to reassess their designs.


New research suggests controlled burns are doing more harm than good

Prescribed burning has been a technique used since the 1960s and is theoretically "lighting a small fire to stop a big one", but does it actually work? 

Curtin University's Adjunct Associate Professor Philip Zylstra is the lead author behind research that suggests prescribed burns are doing more harm than good. 

"There's always the argument that if we don't do these burns, they will be replaced with wildfires that release even more carbon and produce even more smoke," says Professor Zylstra.

"What we are finding is it's doing quite the opposite in a lot of areas. It's encouraging the big fires, not reducing them."


Firefighters do First responder training

In Victoria, local volunteer firefighter brigades are being offered training so they are better equipped to support Ambulance Victoria at motor vehicle accidents. This seems like a smart way to extend the skill base of local brigades.


U.S. Forest Service defends the use of pink wildfire retardant

As was mentioned in last week’s newsletter, a federal lawsuit in Montana that seeks to stop the U.S. Forest Service from dropping retardant into water could reshape how the agency battles wildfires throughout the western United States.

The group behind the lawsuit say that wildfire retardant drops are expensive, ineffective and a growing source of pollution for rivers and streams.


Fire and community resilience


The black summer bushfires killed 3 billion animals. They are our relatives; they deserve to be mourned

Three years after Australia’s firestorm tragedy, Alexis Wright offers a eulogy for the living creatures lost – and a plea for the humans left behind

‘Many times since the black summer fires came, and finally passed, I have thought about the enormity of what happened on vast areas of country, killing 3 billion animals and trillions of invertebrates. I thought, what can one human being say to this unimaginable loss, when I know in my heart that the human world did not do enough to prevent this disaster? A disaster brought on by the global warming emergency. A disaster that created colossal, unprecedented pyro-convective firestorms.’


Alarming report on farmer mental health prompts peak body to call for urgent action

The National Farmer Wellbeing Report surveyed 1,300 farmers from across the country in February, 2023.

It found that 30 per cent of farmers have attempted self-harm or suicide.

The report found that natural disasters were the main trigger for the decline in mental health — followed by financial stress, inflation and cost pressures — with 88 per cent of farmers significantly affected by natural disasters over the past five years.

"What the data has also shown is that there's a huge correlation between natural disasters and mental health, and the recovery period that that takes as well," Mr Jochinke said.


Fire and biodiversity


‘Devil Photos Demonstrate Devastation of Logging Burns ‘

Release from Tasmanian Greens:

Forestry Tasmania’s logging burns are carbon-emitting bombs, with enormous climate impacts. They cause serious health effects for people with respiratory disorders, and lost productivity for local businesses. Despite widespread evidence of avoidable harm, the Liberals insist on continuing this destructive policy.


Fire News update, #15. March 27, 2023

Current and recent fires

Fires in the NT have been causing real concern lately. A key issue is the spread of the highly flammable invasive buffel grass which is making many fires more intense.


MARCH 25: At least one home has been destroyed and several other dwellings impacted by a bushfire that tore through an Alice Springs rural area Friday afternoon.

MARCH 22: ‘Fires of national significance’. Fires west of Alice Springs spread, burning an estimated 100,000 hectares. Bushfires have burnt 100,000 hectares in or near the Tjoritja (West MacDonnell) National Park and the famous Larapinta Trail has been closed.

MARCH 21: A state of natural disaster has been declared for Dubbo Regional Council Local Government Area (LGA) following the Cranbrook bushfire.



Two popular gorge’s and six sections of the Larapinta Trail are closed this weekend as a bushfire burns in Tjoritja/ West MacDonnell National Park

Firefighters are continuing to battle the Yarra Station blaze, burning in the state's Far West, 100km west on Condo'. Burning in thick shrub, the fire is spreading in an easterly direction towards Round Hill Road. There are currently no properties under threat.



Fire season is well underway in North America, especially in the south east. And Spain’s first big wildfire of the year has scorched more than 4,000 hectares of forest and forced 1,500 people to leave their homes in the Valencia region.


Fire culture


Girls on Fire camp aims to close the gender gap in firefighting, emergency services

We all know that firefighting is still very male dominated. While things are changing, they are changing slowly.

This story highlights some of the good grassroots initiatives underway with services like the CFA and RFS, including the Girls on Fire camps.

The program is aimed at chipping away at social and cultural barriers that discourage young women from joining volunteer services.

"We've been using the fire and emergency services, skills and operations as a platform to teach these young women to have the confidence to step forward in any emergencies," Ms Mackintosh said.


Surge capacity and firefighting

There has been renewed conversation in a number of fire circles lately about ‘surge capacity’: the ability to send large numbers of volunteer firefighters quickly to support communities being impacted by fire. In Victoria, a lot of the surge capacity comes from the brigades on the fringes of Melbourne.

The Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria (VFBV) is the ‘united voice of CFA volunteers and advocates on their behalf to CFA and other key stakeholders’ and has recently editorialised about the need to maintain surge capacity in the March edition of their Fire Wise magazine.

FoE has recently been discussing a practical way to expand our surge capacity – by opening up volunteer firefighting to urban based people who live too far from a CFA fire station to be eligible to sign on as a volunteer.

There is a story from FoE on the topic here.

There is a story from the ABC about the proposal here.

Older VFBV work on surge capacity:


Study finds why prescribed burned forests in WA became so fire-prone

New Curtin research has shown how fuel reduction burning aimed at decreasing the likelihood of bushfires in Western Australia’s South West forests have apparently increased fire risk.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Phillip Zylstra, from the School of Molecular and Life Sciences at Curtin University said his study of Red Tingle forest in the Walpole-Nornalup National Park found prescribed burning caused mass thickening of vegetation beneath the main forest canopy, which could result in greater fire risk.

“The findings suggest southwest forests grow in a way that naturally reduces fire risk once they have recovered from disturbance such as natural bushfire, but prescribed burning has undermined this natural process to create a more fire-prone landscape,”

New research reveals how forests reduce their own bushfire risk, if they’re left alone


Spate of e-bike and e-scooter fires prompts battery warning

There were three issues with low-quality electric vehicles: they often have poor quality lithium ion battery cells and battery management systems; they take a beating in normal operation; and they’re often stored or charged inside a home or workplace, so there is a higher risk of a fire spreading.

“Not all LEVs are poor quality and many companies are using high quality lithium-ion battery cells and battery management systems.”


Fire and biodiversity


Alpha Road bushfire has caused 'near total destruction' for native wildlife

Native animals in the New South Wales Central Tablelands are facing "near total destruction" following an 18,000 hectare bushfire, conservationists and carers say.

The president of the Central West Wildlife Carers Network John Marshall spent more than a week fighting the blaze with the Rural Fire Service.

He said a number of native species suffered considerably.

"With the possums and gliders, there wouldn't be that many left in there," he said.


Move to ban aerial use of fire retardants in the USA

An organisation in the USA, Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, is attempting to stop aerial spraying of fire retardant. In a recent newsletter they say:

We need your help to stop the Forest Service from polluting invaluable water resources with aerial fire retardant. The Forest Service actually admits it is violating the Clean Water Act by dumping chemical pollutants into waterways but has vowed to fight the lawsuit we filed to hold them accountable.

Our retardant lawsuit has attracted the attention of three Western Republican congressmen (Newhouse, Rosendale, and Fulcher), who took to the House floor on January 31 to demonize FSEEE. They claim that following the Clean Water Act would put “the lives of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people, at risk by removing one of the most important tools that we have to fight fires in the West.”


Fire news update, #14. March 13, 2023.

Current and recent fires


MARCH 11: Over 580 NSW RFS firefighters continue work on over 25 fires across NSW to strengthen containment lines assisted by waterbombing aircraft and heavy machinery.

MARCH 10: Tambaroora blaze near Hill End dropped to Advice level for first time in days, cooler conditions aid firefighters.

MARCH 9: The Tambaroora bushfire remains out of control, despite additional firefighting resources. The Tambaroora blaze near Hill End was downgraded to a Watch and Act level around 4am, and has now burnt more than 14,000 hectares.

MARCH  8: Firefighters focus on Tambaroora bushfire in NSW Central West, as conditions set to worsen

MARCH 7: Properties under threat as emergency alert level bushfire spreads amid punishing NSW heatwave. The NSW Rural Fire Service says 38 fires are burning across the state including one that is threatening lives and homes in the central west.


Wildfire warnings issued despite snow and ice in Scotland

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) warned of an "extreme" risk of grassland catching fire in parts of southwest and central Scotland.

The SFRS said cold, dry conditions can create the "ideal set of circumstances" for wildfires to spread.


First Nations and fire

‘I warned them’: bushfires are back and Indigenous practitioners say prevention strategies need work

After three years of wet weather, Australia’s eastern states are back in the red and Indigenous fire experts are questioning why they're still being overlooked by governments looking to tackle bushfires.


Fire culture

International Women's Day

IWD is on March 8.

Fire services around the country marked the day in a variety of ways, including providing specific training and events for women and profiles on women in leadership roles.

CFA CEO Natalie MacDonald said International Women’s Day is an opportunity for Victorians to recognise what women bring to their communities.

“It’s an opportunity for us to reflect on the huge contributions women make to brigades and communities.

“Improving diversity and inclusion in CFA and the wider community is something everyone can play a part in. CFA has so many fantastic leaders who are continuing to shape our organisation to be a more inclusive place to volunteer and work now and into the future.”


Tony’s Trek

Tony Pearce is currently walking around 1500 Kms through Victoria to raise funds for mental health and well-being of emergency Workers.

‘I will commence my journey in East Melbourne at the State Control Centre, and over the 50 days, I’ll cover nearly 1440 kms. My route has been specifically chosen to cover much of the area where the Victorian Black Summer Bushfires occurred. I hope this will acknowledge the horrible mental health impacts those fires had and continue to have on emergency workers, along with the community members themselves of these areas.’



Biodiversity, Environmental Sustainability and Human Health

Friday 5 May 2023

The University Club UWA

Entrance 1, Hackett Drive Crawley

Community concern regarding the impacts of broadscale prescribed burning on our South West Biodiversity Hotspot is high. Pervasive smoke pollution heightens concern about the frequency, scale and intensity of planned burns, risks to public health and safety, risks to biodiversity, and the escalating risks of climate change.

Following the outstanding success of the Fire & Biodiversity Forum, held in June 2021 in Margaret River, we take great pleasure in announcing the Fire & Air Forum, to be held in the attractively located University Club of WA. Expert speakers will expand the conversation on how best to protect our natural landscapes and our people for a sustainable and healthy future.

For more info contact Carole Peters: [email protected]


The Nature Reserves Preservation Group of Kalamunda invites you to our Speaker Evening and AGM – all welcome!

Wed March 22.

Dr Phil Zylstra's work and evidence will transform your understanding of bushfires and how Prescribed burning is exacerbating the problem in our Southwest forests.

A/Prof. Phil Zylstra came into bushfire research from a background in fire management and remote area firefighting. His work since that time has seen him develop the first and only peer-reviewed fire behaviour model for most Australian forests, as well as the first model globally to calculate the direct effects of fire on flora, fauna and soils. In his Adjunct role with Curtin University, he has turned his focus toward understanding the ways that our interaction with forests affects fire risk. Using new approaches to analyse fire histories alongside state-of-the-art modelling, Phil has pioneered an approach of “ecological cooperation” that reconciles deep knowledge from First Nations with forest ecology and a complex understanding of fire behaviour to provide critically-needed guidance in fire management.


Smoke from Australian bushfires depleted ozone layer by up to 5% in 2020, study finds

Particles in bushfire smoke can activate molecules that destroy the ozone layer, according to new research that suggests future ozone recovery may be delayed by increasingly intense and frequent fires.

A study published in the journal Nature has found that smoke from the 2019-2020 Australian bushfires temporarily depleted the ozone layer by 3% to 5% in 2020.


Fire and community resilience


Through drought, fires and floods, young Australians share their reflections on resilience and community

‘The nation's largest consultation of young people on climate change and disaster risk — conducted in 2020 by the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience and World Vision — found more than 90 per cent of respondents had experienced at least one natural hazard event in the three years prior.

Since then, parts of Australia have endured one of the nation's worst flood disasters on record, as others were left to count the cost of bushfires.

From the east coast to WA, the stories of these young people may differ.

But through loss and uncertainty have come personal lessons of resilience, community and stability.’

Actions government and emergency services can take on disability inclusive disaster risk reduction

Leave Nobody Behind webinar series |  27 March |  12pm-1.30pm AEDT


The new Leave Nobody Behind webinar series explores collaborative disability inclusive disaster risk reduction (DIDRR) practices. 

For too long, disability has been kept in the 'too-hard' basket. Emergency personnel have not had the right tools to support meaningful inclusion, participation and tailored planning for disasters; community, health and disability service providers have not been integrated into emergency planning; and people with disability have been overlooked in emergency management policies and practice decisions. Confusion persists about who takes responsibility for people with disability in emergencies.

Join AIDR and the Collaborating4Inclusion project team for a webinar that will focus on the role and contributions of Australian government and emergency services to developing DIDRR at the local community level. We will explore approaches that government and emergency personnel are using to put people with disability and their support needs at the centre of inclusive emergency management policy, planning and practice.


Fire and biodiversity

Koala conservation in Queensland

An interview about the Curramore Wildlife Sanctuary, which is the largest nature refuge on the Sunshine Coast.

‘When Australian Wildlife Conservancy purchased Curramore in 2005, it was mostly dense lantana interspersed with patches of sparse kangaroo grass. Following a period of about 18 months, work took place on two days most weeks to eradicate the lantana by spraying or cutting and poisoning the stumps. Eventually, when a more vigorous ground cover of grass had developed, a dry period in July was used to burn the area in an attempt to eradicate what remained of the lantana, mostly on steep lower slopes. This was very successful and what lantana resprouted was easily dealt with. The fire caused limited canopy scorch and an extremely vigorous ground cover of kangaroo grass soon developed. A few months after the fire the first koalas were seen. Other managed fires have followed to maintain the ground cover.’


Increasingly Large and Intense Wildfires Hinder Western Forests’ Ability to Regenerate

As global warming threatens the long-term survival of many forests in the Western United States, a new study suggests that reducing the intensity and size of wildfires would help conifers regenerate after the destructive blazes that have become more frequent in recent decades.

‘The key would be to reduce the overall intensity of wildfires and to minimize the size of the most intense fire patches, said co-author Phil Higuera, an ecosystem and conservation science researcher at the University of Montana. The way to do that is by using intentionally set fires, as well as selective logging, to clear smaller trees out of forests.’


Concerns Increase over the Too Frequent Burning of our Bush

In an interesting feature article in the June ‘Parkwatch’, Phil Ingamells states that “evidence against Victoria’s fuel reduction program is clear, yet burns are increasing. Calls for a pause and re-assessment of fire management are growing louder”. The most alarming result of “fuel reduction” burning is often fuel production burning!

Here in Grampians Gariwerd a “controlled burn” north of Plantation picnic ground this autumn has fiercely burnt out one of the few remaining strongholds of the endemic Grevillea gariwerdensis Gariwerd Grevillea. I am fearful for the future for this species as two of the three known populations have already died out in recent years due to burning combined with climate change, and now the last population has been burnt. And as the above evidence shows, DELWP will not even monitor this, or any other species recovery or lack thereof. It clearly is time for a serious change in our public land management. It must be taken away from government and put in the hands of scientific experts, in collaboration with our First Nations people who had managed this land so successfully for over 60,000 years before colonisation destroyed their culture.


Fire News update, #13. 6 March, 2023

Current and recent fires


Total fire bans are now in place for multiple regions with high to extreme fire danger across most of NSW, with hot, dry and windy weather increasing the fire risk. There are currently 34 fires burning across the state, four of which are yet to be contained.

Weather conditions difficult in ACT and western NSW

Regions around the ACT including Queanbeyan and Goulburn will continue to experience dangerous conditions and total fire bans as a heatwave moves through.


And around 30 schools are closed in rural NSW as emergency services prepare for dangerous fire conditions across the state.

Most are primary level in rural areas near Bathurst, Lithgow, and Mudgee, although the Lithgow and Oberon High Schools are also affected.


MARCH 1: Residents who live in Bonnie Doon (VIC) and surrounding areas were asked to leave their homes immediately as more than 50 firefighters tackled a grass and scrub fire on Wednesday night.


FEB 28: This fire east of Alice Springs, moving into Tjoritja / West MacDonnell NP on multiple fronts. #Sentinel2 image from yesterday. Monitor this fire on

Via Rohan Fisher.


And overseas …

Feb 28: ‘Massive fires rage in Eastern Cuba’.


And an early start to fire season in Texas.


The North American fire season – what’s in store

Predictive Services have released its new set of maps looking at the significant potential for wildfire as we push into the spring fire season.

As we have been experiencing this summer in Australia, many parts of the United States have received significant precipitation. And grass crops are expected to be flourishing. As it dries out, significant parts of the country will experience grass fires.

In April, Alaska joins the party. The state’s western coast will see areas of above-normal potential for significant wildfire.


Coming out of winter, Colorado is already experiencing extreme fire weather conditions. In recent days, Red Flag Warnings have been issued, which are published when critical fire weather conditions are present or incoming.


Fire in Ireland

Fire is NOT a natural part of Ireland's ecology: our native ecosystems like rainforest, wetlands and bogs were fireproof. Now the land has been transformed into artificial states that burn like petrol in dry weather, and people regularly start fires to keep it that way.


Seasonal Bushfire Outlook Autumn 2023

AFAC, the National Council for fire and emergency services, has released the Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for Autumn 2023.

Australia’s recent climate has been influenced by several climate drivers which favoured wetter than average conditions in many locations. Climate outlooks for autumn suggest a change to drier conditions, with much of the country likely to see below average rainfall and normal to above normal temperatures.

These conditions result in outlooks for drier than average soil moisture in late autumn for the Murray Darling Basin, Tasmania and the western WA, suggesting vegetation growth from high moisture in spring 2022 may be drying out in the first half of 2023, leading to high bushfire fuel loads in some places.


Climate change and fires

Climate crisis could lead to more wildfire-inducing ‘hot lightning’ strikes, study warns

A warming planet could lead to more “hot lightning” strikes in many parts of the world, a form of lightning bolt that is much more likely to spark wildfires.

Researchers, including those from The Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia in Spain, said lightning-ignited wildfires produce large emissions of carbon, nitrogen oxides and other gases, playing a key role in the climate crisis.

Previous studies have already found that the global occurrence of lightning flashes may increase due to global heating, especially over land and in the oceanic region of southeastern Asia.


Carbon emissions from boreal forest fires rose in 2021

Fires in North American and Eurasian boreal forests created historic amounts of climate-changing carbon dioxide in 2021, according to a new study Thursday in the journal Science.

Smoke from these wildfires made up 23% of global fire emissions—the largest share from boreal forests since 2000, said findings presented at the annual meeting of American Association for the Advancement of Science. They usually only make up 10% of global fire emissions.

That summer was particularly dry and warm in Canada—even in the country's boreal forests, the cold, carbon-dense ecosystems in the north.


Fire culture

Rethinking how we fight fire – creating opportunities for city people to get involved

Australians are dependent on volunteers when a natural disaster occurs. We have one of the highest per capita rates of volunteer firefighters of any country.

But as climate change increases the impact of natural disasters and fire seasons get longer, the volunteer workforce is being put under more pressure at the same time as volunteer numbers are declining.

So how can it be made more sustainable? 

One idea would be to create volunteer firefighting teams which specifically target urban based people who live too far from a fire station to volunteer.

With ageing rural communities and Australia's population concentrated in major cities, at least part of the answer may lie in the inner city and middle suburbs. 

"We're suggesting that the government thinks differently and rather than draw on volunteers from existing brigades that we set up a volunteer remote area firefighting team that explicitly draws on new volunteers from urban areas and large regional centres”.

"There's lots of people that live in the city that love the bush. They love national parks, they ride mountain bikes, they ski, they bushwalk, they're bird watchers, they love to 4WD.

"I'm sure many of them would love to be involved in these sorts of teams."




















There is a story from the ABC available here, which touches on the idea of establishing volunteer fire fighting teams focused on city based people.

There are some additional details on the proposal here.


Above: opinion piece from The Weekly Times, 1 March 2023.

Fire and biodiversity

‘Planned burns to kill hundreds of Greater Gliders in Strathbogie forest’

Save our Strathbogie Forest and Euroa Environment conservation groups have condemned the planned burns scheduled for Strathbogie Forest this autumn for their failure to ensure protection of the nationally endangered Greater Glider possum, a species protected under state and national environment laws. 

“It is ironic that in 2019 we succeeded in having these forests declared a formal protection area by the Andrews Government to help conserve the Greater Glider and other iconic species and the same government Department is now planning to burn nearly 2000 hectares of glider habitat” said Ms Shirley Saywell, spokesperson for the groups.  And what we know from the Victorian conservation department’s research and our own surveys is that these burns will remove hundreds, perhaps thousands of habitat trees from these burn areas, leading to the death of more than 450 individual Greater Gliders. Is this how we are meant to care for our threatened species?”


Fire news update #12, February 27, 2023

Current and recent fires

FEB 26: Fire rips through stubble near Gawler north of Adelaide amid day of extreme danger. Fire weather warnings are in place for eight districts


FEB 21: Fire burning out of control north of Melbourne at Flowerdale, Yea threatens properties.


Climate change and fires

Australia faces unprecedented grassfires next summer ‘supercharged’ by global heating

Australia should prepare for grassfires on a scale not experienced before, with new analysis warning spring and summer 2023-24 could see widespread fire risk “supercharged” by the climate crisis.

The report, by the Climate Council and Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, says there is also an increased risk of more grassfires breaking out in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia during the current fire season up to April.

The Climate Council’s report noted fuel loads in some inland areas had a normal range of between 0.5 and 1.5 tonnes a hectare but were now between 4.5 and 6 tonnes a hectare as a result of heavy rains.

Heatwaves and dry conditions were now turning those areas yellow and brown, creating what the report described as “powder keg” conditions for future fires.


Fire culture

Firefighter fatigue concerns as western Queensland fire season expected to continue in autumn

The Rural Fire Service has raised concerns about volunteer fatigue as south-west Queensland heads into an "unprecedented" prolonged fire season this autumn.

South West Rural Fire Service superintendent Wayne Waltisbuhl said he could not remember the last time a fire season continued through to March.

"It's usually finished by late January, early February. It's just very dry conditions,"


Two webinars on fire

Science is shaping how Australia can better prepare for devastating bushfire seasons. In January, Natural Hazards Research Australia published its report on the 2019-20 bushfire season, Understanding the Black Summer bushfires through research.  

The research presents an integrated view of the way forward from the fires, including exploring why the 2019-20 fire season was so devastating, what new capabilities can be implemented and how Australia can best learn from its worst fire season on record. This webinar series is your chance to hear about the key findings from the leaders of selected research projects.

Register here to join one or both Zoom webinars. 



Date: Tuesday 7 March

Time: 12:30-1:30pm AEDT


  • Oliver Costello, Jagun Alliance Aboriginal Corporation: how can cultural land management be empowered in south-east Australia?
  • Barry Hunter, North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance: how can emergency management agencies better collaborate with Indigenous practitioners?
  • Dr Josh Whittaker, NSW Rural Fire Service: how were people affected and what actions did they take?
  • Dr Kate Brady, University of Melbourne: how can community be better supported in their recovery?



Date: Thursday 9 March

Time: 12:30-1:30pm AEDT


  • A/Prof Marta Yebra, Australian National University: how dry was the vegetation?
  • Dr Mika Peace, Bureau of Meteorology: what was the influence of the atmosphere on bushfire spread?
  • A/Prof Owen Price, University of Wollongong: did prescribed burning help?
  • Dr Tim Neale, Deakin University: how was fire prediction used?
  • This research, as well as the entire multi-disciplinary Black Summer research program, will guide how bushfire risk can best be managed through better science, policy and practices. The program was undertaken by Natural Hazards Research Australia and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre in the years since the 2019-20 fire season, with funding from the Australian Government and partners.


Fire and biodiversity

New report recommends urgent expansion of gamba grass eradication zone amid growing threat to Litchfield National Park

Gamba grass has now taken over about 20 per cent of Litchfield National Park in the Northern Territory.

A new report has recommended the NT government expand its current gamba eradication zone and increase funding

"Gamba grass is really dangerous to people's safety, but also to the [park's] biodiversity because its fuel loading is so much higher than the native spear grasses, or the native grasses in general," Senior Park Ranger Sam Washusen said.

"The radiant heat can really displace a lot of other vegetation — it can burn the trees and prevent them from going to seed.


Second batch of endangered southern corroboree frogs released in Kosciuszko National Park since fires

A second batch of southern corroboree frogs has been released in Kosciuszko National Park as part of continued efforts to boost numbers of the endangered species since the Black Summer bushfires. 

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment's senior threatened species officer, Dave Hunter, said without this conservation program the frogs would become extinct.

"Outside of our work, as far as we know, there are no southern corroboree frogs remaining," Dr Hunter said.


IMAGE above: on the Flowerdale fires. Photo: Tom Goldstraw, FFMV.

Fire news update #11, February 20 2023

Current and recent fires

A wet spring, rapid growth and a hot summer are posing a grassfire risk on Melbourne's fringe

The 2022 spring was the state's wettest since records began in 1900, and the lead-up to Victoria's summer was marked by floods across much of the state.

Now, the weather has warmed. Last week, Melbourne hit 40 degrees Celsius for the first time in three years.

FEB 18: VicEmergency has issued 26 warnings in the past 24 hours – including an Emergency Warning for a fire at Northwood (pictured below at end of this newsletter) near Seymour.

A huge thanks to more than 200 firefighters from CFA (Country Fire Authority), and Forest Fire Management Victoria who worked together to bring this fire under control yesterday, supported from the air by the Super Puma and Chinook helicopters that are part of Victoria’s fleet of 50 firefighting aircraft.

The Northwood fire was one of more than 50 grass and scrub fires that ignited across the state in yesterday’s elevated fire conditions.

FEB 16: Country Fire Service issues emergency warning for bushfire near Port Lincoln on SA's Eyre Peninsula >

FEB 15: Bushfire-affected residents have 'lost everything' as firefighters continue to battle massive Western Downs blazes >

FEB 15: ‘Huge grassfire under control after locals told to leave’. A grassfire threat has been reduced after Beveridge residents were urged to evacuate their homes on Melbourne’s northern fringe.

FEB 14: There was a big fire in Bulla, near the Tullamarine airport, on the northern fringes of Melbourne. It required 30 appliances and 3 helicopters and several people were treated for smoke inhalation.

FEB 14: Fires in Chile – Copernicus EU (the Earth Observation component of the European Union Space Program) says that last week more than 350,000 hectares of Chile was burnt in less than 10 days.


Wildfires burning in Chile are among the deadliest in country's record

Fires in central and southern Chile, exacerbated by extreme temperatures and megadrought, have led to at least 26 deaths and burned more than 2700 square Already, that makes this the country’s second-most destructive fire season on record after 2017, which saw thousands of fires burn more than 5700 square kilometres and led to at least 11 deaths.

Mark Parrington at the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Services said the fire’s intensity is reflected by the huge plumes of smoke sent billowing over the Pacific Ocean. The service estimates the fires have so far released 4 million tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, leading to the highest emissions from some regions in the past 20 years.

Fire ecologist Evan Frost says the fires have ‘mainly affected lands dominated by tree plantations. Along w/record heat & drought, the high fuel loads in tree plantations have increased the area's risk of fire’.


Climate change and fires


When life becomes one disaster after another, isn't it time to act?

Zoe Cartwright asks When does it become time to talk about climate change when reporting on disasters?

We have all heard the narrative from conservatives:

‘Now’s not the time to talk about climate change; now’s not the time to talk about emissions, people are losing their homes.

I don’t know when it will be time. I don’t know how many disasters we need before we agree that climate change is here, that we need to change, that we must urgently adapt if we are to survive.


Climate change versus fuel reduction

Yes, Wildfires are Getting Worse due to Climate Change

As fire seasons get longer and more intense, a constant debate about fire revolves around the question of whether the driving force is climate change or ‘lack’ of fuel reduction burning.

This is a good, short, clear interview on a frequently misunderstood subject with Professor Stefan Doerr, Swansea University.


First Nations and fire


What if Indigenous women ran controlled burns?

Fire management is predominantly white and around 90% male.

“For such a long time, it has always been just old white fellas that were burning our lands and had no idea of what was there and what was sacred to us,” said Kylee Clubb, a Gambir Yidinji cultural heritage protection officer and volunteer firefighter with Queensland Fire and Emergency Services. “The vision for me as a cultural fire practitioner is to come into one of these brigades (and) have an Indigenous person there,” signing the permits to burn on Indigenous lands, she said. “That’s the whole point of this space.”


Fire culture

Ash Wednesday remembered

These fires started on 16 February 1983. The commemorations were held last week.

From the CFA:

More than 16,000 firefighters from agencies including CFA, Forests Commission Victoria (now known as Forest Fire Management Victoria), and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (now Fire Rescue Victoria) battled the more than 180 fires on that day, working tirelessly to protect their communities. They were supported by Victoria Police, VICSES, Ambulance Victoria and our other emergency services partners, as well as countless local agencies.

Tragically 47 Victorians lost their lives; 14 were CFA firefighters from Panton Hill, Nar Nar Goon, Narre Warren and Wallacedale brigades. The loss of life may have been far greater had it not been for the commitment of those on the ground and behind the scenes.

As one of the most bushfire prone areas in the world, Victoria is used to the challenges of fire. However, stories of Ash Wednesday tell of the extreme and unprecedented nature of the weather conditions. There was no amount of effort to fight or control the fire that could have succeeded until conditions moderated.


I thought I would include these comprehensive stories from Peter McHugh.

A summary of what happened in the Dandenong Ranges area:


And in The Otways.


Cold front made Ash Wednesday bushfires worse and changed focus of research around them

And this piece looks the threat of a dry cold front that often comes with extreme fire weather.

‘In the Ash Wednesday fires, the arrival of a cool change in the late afternoon led to sudden swings in fire direction and huge expansions in the size and intensity of the fires.

Firefighters describe the various blazes as "exploding" at that moment, sweeping across crews that were trying to contain the flanks of fires and leading to a number of deaths in South Australia and Victoria, when fire fronts shifted direction.


Smoke exposure from intense fires linked to long-term respiratory and cardiovascular disease

Scientists studying 2014 Hazelwood coalmine fire say breathing in tiny particles in smoke is linked to increased emergency presentations.

Researchers studying the aftermath of the 2014 Hazelwood coalmine fire have linked exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in smoke to an increased risk over the following five years of needing to visit an emergency department for respiratory problems.

The findings add to the emerging but limited evidence to date on the long-term health impacts of PM2.5 exposure from fires. Wildfire smoke and mine fire smoke “have a similar spectrum of toxic components”, the study’s authors wrote.


Fire and community resilience

New research shows where wildfire mitigation can be highly cost effective

The USA federal government allocates vast amounts of resources to protecting homes in wildfire-prone areas. Wildland firefighting costs associated with home protection are high and rising due to climate change and ongoing development in hazardous areas.

New research has mapped the costs of protecting homes from wildfires and shows that the cost of wildfire protection per home is highest in rural parts of the western United States where housing density is relatively low.

In these areas of low housing density and high wildfire risk, upfront investments in mitigation, including the use of fire-resistant building and landscaping materials, could be highly cost effective—saving lives and property, and reducing fire suppression costs.


IMAGE ABOVE: fire at Northwood near Seymour. Image: Emergency Victoria.

Fire news update #10, 13 Feb 2023

Current and recent fires

Fires continue in WA

Last week there were significant fires in the Fitzgerald River National Park in WA’s south. Campers were told to evacuate after two bushfires broke out in the biodiversity-rich park last week. The park is recognised on Australia’s National Heritage List for its rich diversity of native plant species, including 75 endemic plant species found nowhere else.

At the weekend, 200 firefighters battled a blaze at Neergabby, near the popular tourist destination of Moore River.

The park is one of Australia's most important biospheres, and a local botanist says that native plants are not rejuvenating from historic blazes and says more research is required into the impacts of all fires, including prescribed burns.


NSW and Queensland

More than 50 fires burning in Queensland as scorching weather grips the state


Large grassfire burning between Wee Jasper and Yass most likely started by lightning

A grassfire burning between Wee Jasper and Yass in the New South Wales Southern Tablelands is now under control, but fire crews remain nervous a change in weather conditions could see the blaze jump containment lines.


And in Chile

Forest fires across south-central Chile that have left 24 people dead and swallowed up hundreds of houses.

Chile's national forests association CONAF said on Wednesday the area affected by the fires had now spread to over 300,000 hectares.

Brazil, Spain, Colombia and Mexico are all providing assistance in the firefighting efforts.

And in a potentially sinister development, it is being reported that the Chilean police have opened an investigation into the death of a Spanish pilot after the Single Engine Air Tanker he was operating crashed while fighting fires there in January. Luis Sevillano, 34, was the pilot involved in the incident. Witnesses close to the incident reported gunfire before the crash happened. 


Climate change and fires

Western USA wildfires have destroyed 246% more homes and buildings this decade

In a new study, we found a 246% increase in the number of homes and structures destroyed by wildfires in the contiguous Western U.S. between the past two decades, 1999-2009 and 2010-2020.

Surprisingly, it’s not just the trend of burning more area, or simply more homes being built where fires historically burned. While those trends play a role, increasing home and structure loss is outpacing both.

Whats going on?

  • unplanned human-related ignitions, including backyard burning, downed power lines, and campfires is increasing the number of fires in areas with dense human habitation
  • The amount of flammable vegetation has increased in many regions because of an absence of burning due to emphasizing fire suppression


A rescue plan for the snow gums

It is clear that neither the VIC or NSW governments understand the threats posed to snow gum woodlands from the double impacts of dieback and more frequent fire.

This article provides some thoughts from the USA on how land managers have responded to a similar threat there. The Whitebark Pine is facing similar threats to snow gums from a range of sources.


First Nations and fire

‘How Indigenous Knowledge Reconnects Us All to Fire’

A story from North America.

‘Since time immemorial, the Great Lakes Anishinaabeg have used fire to manage the landscape across what is now called North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and parts of Canada. Despite fire’s universal value to humanity, European settlement put an abrupt stop to the traditional practice of controlled burns, deeming fire an entirely destructive force.

Traditional knowledge of fire handling, fire-related language, and the fire-adapted landscape are just a few of the cultural pillars nearly lost to time. Yet, in the past several years, the restoration of fire knowledge and fire-dependent ecosystems has gained traction thanks to Indigenous leadership’.


‘Changing Fire Imaginaries’

‘The last two hundred years of colonial land use, and now climate change, have created dangerous fire-prone conditions across the whole of our continent such that the lighting of fires at all is regarded as extraordinarily risky. At the same time, the idea that fire can be a critically important ally in the current circumstances is becoming better understood, as is its cultural importance and benefits for First Nations peoples. Addressing Australia’s relationship to fire in the context of global heating will require genuine intercultural achievements.

Established government agency-led fire management practices are not all bad. But they have grown out of a failing paradigm in which the idea of living and working intimately with fire has been lost or suppressed. Aboriginal practices, which have a long and successful history, offer new opportunities, although they need to be carefully articulated in relation to new circumstances and proven existing practices. The real challenge is changing the broad framework within which the conversation takes place and any solution formulated. This will require negotiation and compromise—a public discourse that is prepared to question existing assumptions and look for the radical difference inherent in what may appear to be simple traditional behaviours. This might involve changing the statement of the problem from one of mastery and control to one of home and place.’


Fire culture

Remembering Black Saturday

February 7 marked the anniversary of the devastating Black Saturday fires. 173 people died, 3,500 buildings were destroyed, an estimated one million animals died, and vast areas of forests were badly burned, transforming the landscape.

About 400 individual fires were recorded on the day. It is one of the worst bushfires in Australian history.


Remembering Ash Wednesday

On February 16, 1983, southern Australia burned with a fury few had seen before.

On a day that became known as Ash Wednesday, more than 180 bushfires raged across the Adelaide Hills, the state’s southeast and through regional Victoria, claiming 75 lives, including 17 firefighters.

In Victoria 2800 homes were destroyed and in SA, 383 were razed during firestorm conditions fanned by sudden wind shifts, with the speed and ferocity of the flames engorged by abundant fuel loads.

At the time, the fires were the deadliest in Australian history, though that dubious honour has since passed to the Black Saturday fires across Victoria in 2009 which claimed 173 lives.

Forty years have passed since Ash Wednesday but for those who were directly impacted, the memories remain vivid.


A Boeing 737-300 has crashed fighting fires in Western Australia

Last week, a  Boeing 737-300 aircraft which had been fighting fires in south west Western Australia crashed. In some fantastic, news, both of the air crew on board survived with only minor injuries.


Fire and community resilience

200 experts dissected the Black Summer bushfires in unprecedented detail. Here are 6 lessons to heed

The Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20 were cataclysmic: a landmark in Australia’s environmental history. They burnt more than 10 million hectares, mostly forests in southeast Australia. Many of our most distinctive, ancient and vulnerable species were worst affected.

A new book, titled Australia’s Megafires, synthesises the extent of the losses. The work involved contributions from more than 200 scientists and experts. It provides the most comprehensive assessment yet of how the fires affected biodiversity and Indigenous cultural values, and how nature has recovered.


Why and how local communities must be part of new solutions in crisis management

In a time of more frequent and severe natural disasters, current crisis management arrangements are straining at the seams. New thinking is required.

Meaningful engagement at the local level needs to be the starting point for disaster preparedness, as well as broader systemic reform.

We should empower local communities,


Fire and biodiversity

Scientists slam NSW Government for high-risk logging since Black Summer bushfires

A group of globally renowned scientists have slammed the NSW government for failing to measure the impact of the 2019 Black Summer bushfires and continuing to log native forests at the same rate as before, even in designated high-risk zones.

Professor Grant Wardell Johnson: “Globally significant fire events have recently impacted the south-east forests. Intensive logging carried out extensively has significant long term effects. In this context, a comprehensive review of logging activity is urgently required.’


Fighting fire in the dry

A recent wildfire on Yourka Reserve has revealed the benefits of best practice controlled burning in tropical north Queensland. 

On Yourka Reserve, Jirrbal and Warrungu Country, far-north Queensland, Bush Heritage Reserve Manager Paul Hales witnessed a massive fire burn for weeks in 2019. After six months, the scars had disappeared. 

For over a decade, Paul had been tirelessly working to create fire breaks and manage the 43,500-hectare reserve through controlled burning. But despite these efforts, 43% of the reserve still burnt that summer. Paul is sure the fire would have been significantly worse without the work that preceded it.


Fire news update #9. February 6, 2023

Current and recent fires

Last week, more than 1,000 hectares of bushland near Tara on Queensland's Western Downs was burnt in suspicious circumstances.

A Queensland Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said multiple fires were lit at Wieambilla on Kogan Condamine Road, Old Tara Road and Mary's Road between 10pm Sunday and 3am Monday Jan 30.


Fire in the ACT

There was a fire on the western side of Mt Ainslie, in Canberra yesterday.


Firefighters battle dozens of wildfires in Chile

Dozens of wildfires blazing though Chile caused the government to extend an emergency order to another region on Saturday, as a scorching summer heatwave complicates efforts to control fires that have claimed at least 22 lives so far.

In recent days, satellite-based estimates based on NASA FIRMS data  indicate that the largest fire spread 80 kilometers west and northwest, impacting an area of nearly 100,000 hectares.

In tragic news, an emergency-support helicopter in La Araucania crashed late last week, killing its pilot and a mechanic.

With official reports of more than 191 active wildfires, Chile is now receiving much-needed help from its neighbors and abroad.

Argentina announced yesterday that they would send a Chinook helicopter, nearly 70 firefighters, about the equivalent of three Hotshot Crews, multiple trucks, and supplies.

Spain has also sent a large contingent of firefighters to help with the fires still burning in Chile.


Climate change and fires

To help prevent out-of-control wildfires, US sends $930 million to western states

The U.S. is directing $930 million toward reducing wildfire dangers in 10 western states by clearing trees and underbrush from national forests, the Biden administration announced Thursday, as officials struggle to protect communities from destructive infernos being made worse by climate change.

Under a strategy now entering its second year, the U.S. Forest Service is trying to prevent out-of-control fires that start on public lands from raging through communities. But in an interview with The Associated Press, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack acknowledged that the shortage of workers that has been plaguing other sectors of the economy is hindering the agency's wildfire efforts.


Rocky Mountain subalpine forests now burning more than any time in recent millennia

Climate change is increasing wildfire activity across the western United States, with unprecedented rates of burning expected in many western forests by mid-century. Here, we use a unique network of fire history records to show that after the extreme 2020 fire season, Rocky Mountain subalpine forests are now burning more than at any point in the past 2,000 years, exceeding variability experienced in response to past climate extremes. Increasingly warm, dry conditions in the 21st century are enabling the exceptional rates of burning, including 2020, consistent with long-standing links between climate and fire in subalpine forests. Continued warming will reinforce newly emerging fire regimes, with significant implications for ecosystems and society.


A rescue plan for the snow gums

It is clear that neither the VIC or NSW governments understand the threats posed to snow gum woodlands from the double impacts of dieback and more frequent fire.

This article provides some thoughts from the USA on how land managers have responded to a similar threat there. The Whitebark Pine is facing similar threats to snow gums from a range of sources.


Fire culture

NCC Bushfire conference

NCC Bushfire Program’s 13th biennial bushfire conference has been announced for the 24th and 25th of May. It is one of the largest and oldest bushfire conferences in Australia. Abstract submissions for those who would like to speak or present a poster at the event are now open, closing on February 27th. Tickets will go on sale in February, with discounts available for not-for-profit groups. Find out more by clicking here.

The theme for this year's conference is “Managing Bushfire Together: Applying science, skills and stories”. The event will have some hybrid (both online and in-person) capacity, although in-person attendance is encouraged in order to enjoy offerings such as the conference dinner and poster session. Abstract submissions are now open for those who are interested in presenting at the event, as either a speaker or during the poster session, and close on the 27th of February. We encourage anyone to come forward with a story to tell, whether in the form of an academic paper or simply a story about their experience with bushfire and bushfire management. Furthermore, conference sponsorship opportunities for businesses, agencies and organisations are also available.

Please visit for more information on these opportunities, or save the page for when discounted early-bird tickets become available in February.


Australia 'not prepared' for fire risk of lithium-ion batteries used in e-scooters, bikes, cars

Australia is "not prepared" for the risk posed by lithium-ion batteries — used in electric scooters, bikes and cars — which have been linked to hundreds of fires across the country, a firefighters' union has warned.  

The United Firefighters Union of Queensland's general secretary, John Oliver, said there had been 27 house fires linked to electric vehicles so far this financial year.

"We're not prepared for this because we're going to get more," he said.

"This isn't a normal fire … firies are worried about it."


Study: Where there’s smoke, there’s worse wildfires

The smoke from wildfires can change the weather and make fires more destructive, a new study has found. 

The study published on Thursday in Science emphasized the disruptive impacts of the smoke from large wildfires on the weather patterns of entire regions — driving blazes to more destructive heights.


Fire and community resilience

Natural disasters can have a mental health toll. Psychologists say you shouldn't have to wait for help

A peak group representing psychologists wants measures put in place following the Black Summer bushfires extended to any natural disaster

The Australian Association of Psychologists Inc (AAPi) wants to remove the need for people to get a GP referral before seeing a psychologist if they have recently experienced a natural disaster.

The push comes after a recent report found more than half of Australians who experienced climate-fuelled disasters since 2019 said their mental health had been somewhat impacted.


US Congress Passes Legislation Focused on Resilience and Equity

Earlier this month, the USA Congress passed, with bipartisan support, legislation that will empower communities at heightened risk of natural disasters. Its goal is to help those places implement preventative measures and curb the impacts of future events.

The Community Disaster Resilience Zones (CDRZ) Act amends the 1988 Stafford Act with a requirement that FEMA regularly update datasets that define natural hazard risk factors across the U.S., from flooding and extended droughts to wildfires and extreme heat, which will be leveraged to designate communities that are most in need. Notably, once signed into law, it will authorize the President to provide critical funding for pre-disaster planning.


Helicopter pilots discuss different approaches to aerial firefighting around the world

An interview with pilot Justin Rath who flies an Air Crane and operates with fire agencies or on contracts all around the world. He discusses how fires are managed in different parts of the world.


Wildfires 2022 – 23 webinar

Wildfires have been among the most talked about natural disasters in the United States over the last decade, the West in particular. Dramatic and deadly, hard to predict, and even harder to manage wildfires and the resulting smoke are a major threat to millions of people around the world.

We have teamed up with the Western Fire Chiefs Association (WFCA), to tackle one of the key tools needed in the fight to protect health and safety (as well as our homes and businesses)–information.


Fire and biodiversity

Short-term impacts of the 2019–20 fire season on biodiversity in eastern Australia

In December 2020, the Ecological Society of Australia conference held a symposium ‘Short term impacts of the 2019–20 fires in eastern Australia’. This was an attempt to report and discuss early field assessments of those fires that stand as the largest forest fires in Australian history.

There are nine presentations, available at the link below.


Fire News update, #8. January 30, 2023


Current and recent fires

Fires in NSW and Victoria

It was a big week last week in both states, with a large number of grass and scrub fires.


Climate change and fires

Record dry spell threatening Tasmania's Wilderness World Heritage Area

Tasmania's west is predicted to continue to dry out due to climate change, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change February 2022 report.

Unusually dry weather is leaving the sensitive ecosystems of the Wilderness World Heritage Area sensitive to fire.

"There's a relentless drying trend, making the landscape really quite receptive to lighting strikes."


What's driving re-burns across California and the West?

A Re-Burn refers to areas being burnt multiple times in a short period of time (this study defines re-burns as areas that burned multiple times over 10 to 20 years). They are becoming more common in Australia, and in other parts of the world.

Seasonal temperature, moisture loss from plants and wind speed are what primarily drive fires that sweep across the same landscape multiple times.

"Rapid climate change is the force behind these re-burns, which are increasing across the West at roughly the same rate as single-burn fires."

‘By understanding the conditions that fuel re-burns and being able to predict where they might occur, agencies responsible for wildfire mitigation can focus more of their efforts on prescribed burns and thinning and possibly come up with novel effective treatment strategies that are more resistant to re-burns in those areas


Rocky Mountain subalpine forests now burning more than any time in recent millennia

Climate change is increasing wildfire activity across the western United States, with unprecedented rates of burning expected in many western forests by mid-century.

“Here, we use a unique network of fire history records to show that after the extreme 2020 fire season, Rocky Mountain subalpine forests are now burning more than at any point in the past 2,000 years, exceeding variability experienced in response to past climate extremes. Increasingly warm, dry conditions in the 21st century are enabling the exceptional rates of burning, including 2020, consistent with long-standing links between climate and fire in subalpine forests”.


First Nations and fire


Kimberley seed smoking trial underway to help rehabilitate Argyle diamond mine

A new smoking method is being trialled on native seeds used to rehabilitate the Argyle diamond mine in WA. The smoking aims to emulate a bushfire to trigger seed germination.

Since Rio Tinto closed its Argyle diamond mine in 2020, traditional owners have been among those working to return the site, about 180km south of Kununurra, closer to its untouched state.

Gelganyem Group, which represents the site's traditional owners, has been involved in accumulating a bank of about 80 different native species, harvested from a 200km radius of the mine.

The group's seed operations manager Riley Shaw said a new smoking treatment was being trialled to encourage seed germination at the once bustling pink diamond mine.

"The idea is that we want to replicate a bushfire," he said.


‘Flame wars’: a look at the work of Michael-Shawn Fletcher

A critique of the work of Michael-Shawn Fletcher’s work on fire and land management. He is a prolific researcher and communicator who argues that conservation law has “created the conditions in which climate-driven bushfires become megafires.”

‘Last November, as summer approached, he co-authored an article in The Conversation claiming that Victoria’s Land Conservation Act 1970 “turned this ‘paradise on Earth’ into a tinderbox”. The article followed another in the journal Fire, which condemned “the curse of conservation”. Across bushfire-prone regions and beyond, these articles generated news reports and magazine features with the same anti-conservation messages. Fletcher’s team claimed their research showed that the devastating 2019–20 bushfires “blew out due to legislation introduced in the 1970s”, which “banned farmers from mimicking Aboriginal burning practices by using frequent fires to promote grass for livestock. As a result, the amount of flammable trees and shrubs exploded in the region.’

This story from the Monthly has perspectives from a range of people, including Wiradjuri man, Richard Swain, Gunaikurnai elder Marj Thorpe and a range of fire specialists and ecologists.

It is well worth a read.


Fire culture

The 2003 Alpine fires

‘The 2003 bushfires were the biggest in Victoria since 1939, burning about 1.3 million hectares of bushland. This week marks the 20th anniversary of major blazes that impacted communities after lightning had started many fires earlier in the month.

‘By the time it was quelled, 60 days later, the blaze had burned 1.3 million hectares, and threatened towns such as Bright, Mitta Mitta, Benambra, Omeo, Buchan, and Swifts Creek.

‘On January 30, the fire ran a total of 43 kilometres on January 30 — the longest run ever recorded — from near Benambra through to Gelantipy.’

There is a reflection here.


Remembering the Aberfeldy fires

‘JAN 24 - 10 years ago, a bushfire broke out in the Aberfeldy area of Gippsland, causing destruction and devastation.

The fire spread rapidly and unexpectedly, covering 20,000 hectares within the first 16 hours.

It also showed signs of a phenomenon called lateral spread, which is uncommon in bushfires and refers to the fire spreading almost opposite to the wind direction.

The fire burned 87,000 hectares, killed one Seaton resident and around 180 head of livestock, destroyed 21 houses and 17 vehicles.

It took two months to bring under control.

The Aberfeldy fires has directly contributed to our understanding, preparation for, and response to bushfires over the past 10 years.

We honour the memory of those who lost their homes, businesses, and loved ones, as well as the brave firefighters who worked tirelessly to contain the fire’.


Learning about wildfire in the UK

After the widespread fires that occurred in the UK and Europe in their most recent summer, emergency services are working to update their skills in fighting wild fire (does anyone remember the images of firefighters in England and France structural gear fighting bushfires in extreme heat?)

Now the Met Office has a new course on wildfires, aimed at emergency workers.


Black summer report

A new report has been published by Natural Hazards Research Australia (the Centre) that summarises the key research findings from the wide-ranging Black Summer research program, undertaken by the Centre and the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC in the years since the 2019-20 fire season.

The report – Understanding the Black Summer bushfires through research: a summary of key findings from the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC – presents findings from 23 projects within four research themes, covering different issues and knowledge gaps that arose from Black Summer:

  • fire predictive services
  • cultural land management
  • community-centred disaster risk reduction
  • bushfire data and reconstruction.


Firefighters’ careers could be impacting their reproductive health

High temperatures, stress and the ‘forever chemicals’ firefighters are exposed to could be factors in pregnancy and fertility complications, new research shows.

This is from the USA but well worth a read.

“There’s this huge growth [in research], but the downside is … that a lot of that has been focused on White males, because that’s the largest proportion of folks in the fire service.”

To remediate that trend, in 2017, the center started a study of over 3,000 women firefighters in North America (it did not include trans or nonbinary people, many of whom are also impacted).


AI wildfire detection bill gets initial approval in Colorado

A year after the most destructive wildfire in the state’s history scorched nearly 1,100 homes, Colorado lawmakers are considering joining other Western states by adopting artificial intelligence in the hopes of detecting blazes before they burn out of control.

A Colorado Senate committee on Thursday unanimously voted to move forward a bill to create a $2 million pilot program that would station cameras on mountaintops, and use artificial intelligence to monitor the footage and help detect early signs of a wildfire. The bill will move to the state Senate Appropriations Committee next.


Fire and community resilience

Montana must build housing for the fires and floods of tomorrow

This is a story that is playing out around the world: as fires become more frequent how to we harden human settlements to be more able to resist fire?

This example of the debate comes from Montana, and includes the question of how authorities can change housing guidelines in a way that is able to deliver affordable, attainable housing.


Climate Change Trauma: You’re Not Alone!

‘Anxiety and trauma have become common effects of living and surviving in our rapidly overheating and intensely polluted globe. Scientists tell us over and over that we are well on our way to unthinkable consequences in the very near future. In fact, many people have already experienced such horrific events. If you are feeling battered by climate change, you definitely are not alone.’


Malls think green after acting as community hubs in disasters

‘The devastating floods in NSW and fires in Victoria last year, together with the summer heat across the rest of the country proved to mall landlords that their properties need to be climate-proof and act as hubs for the community when disasters hit.

Region, formerly SCA Property, says malls need to support their customers in times of need.

“We are not just malls because in times of crisis, such as floods and bushfires, the properties are evacuation hubs, and we offer a range of community facilities for areas affected by these natural disasters.”


Fire and biodiversity

Drought-driven “mortality event” is the largest ever recorded in western USA

It’s a familiar story in forests around the world: droughts, heatwaves, disease and insects are causing record numbers of trees in native forests to die.

For instance, recent research in the western USA has found that Fir trees in Oregon and Washington died in record-breaking numbers in 2022. The situation is so bad that researchers have called it ‘Firmageddon.’

And as in Australia, loss of trees increase fire risk:

‘Unsurprisingly, having more than half the fir trees dead in some of these forests poses a major fire risk.

A dangerous fire period can occur within the first two years following a major die-off.

During these critical first two years, dead trees continue to hold onto their dried-out needles in the canopy of the forest.

This makes severe crown fires far more likely should a fire start.

When this happens fire can jump from treetop to treetop, leading to large scale destruction.

“It [wildfire] can just go from tree to tree, not even touching the ground hardly, and just burn the entire canopy. “That is the worst fire there is. It’s the most dangerous and hardest to control.”,trees%20in%20the%20two%20states


Fires in the north – 2022

This comes from Rohan Fisher, North Aust NRM/fire scientist

Fires across Australia in 2022. A reasonably big year in central Aust after a few wet years producing a lot of fuel. Most fire, as always, across the flammable northern Savannas.

A massive amount of work by northern fire managers can be seen in the largely smaller, cooler burns before July. Even with some severe fire conditions later in the year a good outcome overall. Data from


Fire news update, #7, January 23, 2023

Current and recent fires

I’ve been offline the last few days and haven’t caught up with the news on local recent/ current fires. 

The southern hemisphere fire season continues to be bad in the south of South America. There is currently extreme fire behavior in San Javier, Chile today. Multiple aviation resources have been deployed to both Chile and Argentina from the United States to help.


Climate change and fires


Warning of unprecedented heatwaves as El Niño set to return in 2023

There is a growing narrative that El Nino conditions will return during this year, and therefore next fire season will be more similar to the conditions of 2019/20 than the last two summers.

‘The return of the El Niño climate phenomenon later this year will cause global temperatures to rise “off the chart” and deliver unprecedented heatwaves, scientists have warned.

Early forecasts suggest El Niño will return later in 2023, exacerbating extreme weather around the globe and making it “very likely” the world will exceed 1.5C of warming. The hottest year in recorded history, 2016, was driven by a major El Niño.’


A bit more on El Nino and likely impacts on fire.

‘The three years of La Niñas have seen strong vegetation growth which could turn into lots of fuel for fires if conditions turn drier and hotter

“The propensity for landscapes to burn is going to be jaw-dropping,” Bowman says.

“We could unfortunately see very serious fire activity and for the public, that’s very difficult to wrap your mind around when it’s been so wet. But you will see these landscapes move into highly flammable states.”

Bowman says the wet years have promoted grass growth, which he said was “the petrol of bushfire fuel” that burns fast and intense.

“Of course we’re all worried [about an El Niño] because we’ve been living with these other threats of flooding. But it’s going to come roaring back at us.

  • Prof David Bowman, a bushfire expert at the University of Tasmania


Fire culture

The 2003 ACT fires

Last week marked the 20th anniversary of the devastating 2003 Canberra Bushfires which claimed the lives of 4 people and destroyed more than 500 homes. There were a considerable number of reflections on what we have learned about fires since then, including these:


Andrew Gissing writing for The Conversation:

‘Today, we know much more about how extreme bushfires behave, we have computer models to show where they might move to, and our communications and warnings have vastly improved. We have now had 20 years of a coordinated national research effort on bushfire, and developing this science has made all Australians safer.

While even the best science doesn’t aim to eliminate fire from our land and there remains much to learn, as a country we are better placed to respond swiftly when a bushfire strikes. And crucially, we better understand risk – the Canberra fires showed even urban communities can be in danger if close enough to the bush.


Clare Skinner, writing for On the Ward, who discusses the impacts of large fires on the public health system and the people who work within them. There are also links to some great resources.


ABC video report:

With the advent of the 20th anniversary of the deadly blaze, many residents reflect on their own narrow escapes and continue to raise questions about why there hadn't been an adequate warning system.


Firefighter Vivien Thomson reflects on the 2003 fires:

Thomson described flames burning the same ground once, twice, three times despite having no fuel left to consume and leaping from treetop to treetop without igniting the forest floor.

"The fire behaviour and what was happening was like nothing, absolutely nothing, any of us had seen before," she said.


Book review: Fire: A Message from the Edge of Climate Catastrophe

Margi Prideaux (Stormbird); Saving the Reef – Rohan Lloyd (University of Queensland Press).

The Australian Black Summer fires of 2019-2020 were unspeakably grim. Twenty-four million hectares were burnt, 33 people died, and over a billion animals perished.

In Fire: A Message from the Edge of Climate Catastrophe, Margi Prideaux tells us that on Kangaroo Island, which lies off the Australian mainland, just south-west of Adelaide, 211,500 hectares were burnt, two human lives were lost – a fire-fighting father and son – and 60,000 farm animals died.

But so much more was lost as the Kangaroo Island community sought to save itself from the monster fire that was started by a lightning strike, burst into two pyrocumulonimbus clouds, and devoured everything before it at lethal, unstoppable speed.


Fire and community resilience

Natural disasters are taking a rising toll on the mental health of Australians

Frequent and intense natural disasters profoundly affect the mental health of Australians, a poll conducted by the Climate Council and supported by Beyond Blue has found.

The survey of 2032 Australians found that since 2019, 80 per cent of respondents reported experiencing at least one heatwave, flooding, bushfire, drought, cyclone or a destructive storm.

Half of those surveyed said their mental health had been negatively affected by the extreme weather event they experienced, and one in five reported a major or moderate impact on their mental health.


Fire News update, #6. Jan 16, 2023


Current and recent fires

Fires across most states

Much of the country continues to experience hot and dry conditions and fire. While large sections of central and north Queensland is experiencing extreme rain events, fires are burning in the ACT, NSW, Victoria and SA. WA continues to struggle with fires that were caused by lightning last week.

For a general overview of the flood and fire events, check here:



‘Residents of two rural towns in far western Victoria have been warned about two dangerous bushfires which are threatening more than 50 properties near the South Australian border.

VicEmergency warned those living in Kadnook, around 100 kilometres north-west of Hamilton, that it was too late to leave their homes and they should seek shelter from the seven-hectare fire.’

As of this morning, warnings for these fires have been downgraded to watch and act.


South Australia

‘Two firefighters are recovering after being injured fighting a blaze in the Adelaide Hills in extreme conditions yesterday.’

The CFS also battled a blaze that began at Hawthorndene, near the Belair National Park in the Mount Lofty Ranges, on Saturday night.


Fires in lutruwita/ Tasmania

It’s been consistently dry in the west of the state and some World Heritage Areas are being impacted by fires. Remote-area firefighters from the Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) have been working to control the fire, burning at Bonnet Bay on the shores of Lake Pedder, since it was reported on January 6.

A fire in the same region in 2018 burnt for weeks and destroyed at least 187,000 hectares of wilderness

As a footnote to this story, the amount of vegetation burnt by fires caused by lightning strikes in Tasmania’s world heritage area has increased dramatically this century, according to research led by the University of Tasmania.

The study, published in the academic journal Fire, warns that 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.



Queensland's bushfire season typically begins in July and runs through until October, but thanks to a La Niña weather pattern across most of the state, the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) are keeping a close eye on conditions in anticipation of an early start.

Bushfire mitigation executive manager for QFES and the Rural Fire Service, James Haig, says despite forecasts of increased rainfall over summer, the risk of bushfires is still very high.


Climate change and fires

Call for bushfire resourcing boost in face of climate change threat

Two decades after the 2003 firestorm, the ACT’s firefighting forces are stretched thin along a longer urban-rural fringe and the government needs to do more so the Territory can adapt to the reality of more frequent and intense bushfires due to a changing climate, a new report has found.

The Report on ACT Bushfire Management since 2003 from the ACT Multi Hazard Advisory Council says that while much has been done since the 18 January disaster that killed four people and destroyed 488 homes, the government now needs to take a more strategic, long-term approach to bushfire management, including boosting the numbers of both professional and volunteer firefighters, as well as harnessing community-based responses.


Australian bushfires burning hotter, more often in recent decades compared to past millennia

‘What will happen to bushfire intensity and frequency in the future? The short answer is: we don't know.

But it is possible that, under various levels of global warming, there could be the same number of or even fewer fires in savannas after a while.

That's because more fires sweeping through a region that already burns often, combined with less rainfall, will eventually mean there's nothing left to burn.


Fire culture

First electric fire truck in USA starts operation

The first electric fire truck in the U.S., a Rosenbauer RTX, has been delivered to a fire brigade in Los Angeles.

The RTX is a range-extended electric vehicle, with a diesel engine acting as a generator to help charge the 132-kwh battery pack. The BMW-sourced 3.0-liter inline-6 kicks on when the charge drops to 20%, and can recharge the battery pack in about 45 minutes.

The RTX can operate for about two hours on battery power alone, plus another six hours on diesel power. Its onboard water pumps can be electrically driven, or operated by the diesel range extender.


Fire and community resilience

Pandemic, fires and floods prompt new approaches to preparing Victoria's multicultural communities for emergencies

"We became aware after the bushfires that there were a number of people from multicultural backgrounds [who] were not aware of how to respond to serious crisis situations," North East Multicultural Association (NEMA) president Ian Prentice said.

"[They] face a number of difficulties — [such as] language barriers, being isolated geographically and socially — and we felt that we needed to increase the connection with the people … who have migrated from other countries."


Fire risk map ignites controversy

An interesting look at what happened in Oregon when the state government developed a Fire Risk map for the state.

‘Mitigating fire risk is an urgent issue throughout the West, including Oregon, where wildfires burned a record-breaking number of homes in 2020. Oregon’s new property assessment, part of broader wildfire legislation, marked an inflection point in its state-level wildfire response; for the first time, the state designated wildfire risk with the intent of regulating statewide home-defense measures’.


Fire News update, #5. Jan 16, 2023

Current fires

Despite flooding in the north, fires continue to rage in the south west of WA. Check here for current updates.


As reported in the last newsletter, inland areas which have experienced two years of good rain are now facing really significant threat from grass fires.


There was a significant fire near Gilgandra, to the north of Dubbo, yesterday that required cross agency collaboration and air support to contain.

Australia could swing from three years of La Niña to hot and dry El Niño in 2023

As fire season really takes off here, its worth having a think about what next summer might be like. After two mild and relatively wet fire seasons, it is inevitable that it will swing back to hot and dry conditions.

Recent reporting considers what may be on the cards:

‘Australia could swing from three years of above-average rainfall to one of the hottest, driest El Niño periods on record, as models show an increasing likelihood the climate driver may form in the Pacific in 2023.

The latest climate models used by the Bureau of Meteorology – which will update its forecasts on Wednesday – indicate sea-surface temperatures may exceed El Niño thresholds in the key region of the equatorial Pacific by June.’


Climate change and fires

The 2003 Alpine fires 20 years on

It is 20 years since the 2003 Alpine fires tore through much of the Victorian high country.

On 8 January 2003, lightning strikes ignited 87 fires, 8 of which would join to form the largest fire in Victoria since the 1939 Black Friday bushfires, burning through 60% of the Alpine National Park.

For more than 40 days, several high country townships, including Mt Hotham and Dinner Plain, were under threat from a fire that would ultimately burn 1.3 million hectares, destroying 41 homes and upwards of 9,000 livestock.

According to Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMV), emergency workers and volunteers from across 35 agencies, including more than 4,000 firefighters, helped protect community, landscapes and property over that summer. There is a great set of images from the fires on the FFMV facebook page.

Since that time, fire has become more common in the high country. A lot has changed since then, both in terms of how we fight fires, and the resources we have available to do so.


Addressing the Threat of Wildfires to Water Supplies: Meet Laura Harger

In the west of the USA, climate change is driving fires into areas that have not normally burnt very often. This is causing problems for water supplies in some areas. This is a brief interview with National Wildland Fire Management Program Coordinator Laura Harger about how the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is responding to the threat of fire in water catchments.


Key solutions to devastating wildfires still not enacted in Colorado

The Marshall Fire, the most destructive in Colorado history, killed two people and incinerated 1,084 residences and seven businesses within hours. Financial losses are expected to top $2 billion.

The blaze showed that Colorado and much of the West face a fire threat unlike anything they have seen. No longer is the danger limited to homes adjacent to forests. Urban areas are threatened, too.

Yet despite previous warnings of this new threat, ProPublica found Colorado’s response hasn’t kept pace. Legislative efforts to make homes safer by requiring fire-resistant materials in their construction have been repeatedly stymied by developers and municipalities, while taxpayers shoulder the growing cost to put out the fires and rebuild in their aftermath.


First Nations and fire

The future of large landscape conservation begins with Indigenous communities

A look at the changing way large conservation estates are managed in the USA.


Healing with fire on koala country

This is a rerun of a story that was first aired last April and is well worth a listen.

‘Australia’s Black Summer bushfires killed billions of native animals and brought one of the country’s most iconic species closer to the brink of extinction.

Another legacy of the bushfires has been a groundswell of support for traditional Aboriginal fire management practices. On sacred Country, in the land of the Yuin people, cultural burning is being reintroduced to protect the habitat of the last known koala population on the far south coast of NSW.’


Fire culture

Attempt to ban prescribed fire in New Mexico

A Senator in New Mexico intends to introduce a Bill to ban prescribed fire during spring. The Law, if passed, would prohibit prescribed burns from ANY Government body. This is as a result of a significant fire (Calf Canyon) that happened as a result of planned burns that got away, which burnt more than 500 homes.


Flood and fire-prone communities turn to UHF CB radio networks in disaster preparation

This one is from before Christmas.

Radio expert John Miller is helping about 20 communities across the Northern Rivers set up their own radio networks as a failsafe form of communication during future disasters.

He said the issue with almost all modern telecommunications systems, including mobile phones and internet, was that they relied on land-based infrastructure networks that could lose power or be damaged in fires and floods.


‘People are at breaking point’: Still waiting for a home in Mallacoota

A look at what is happening and how the environment and community is coping three years on.

After the frenzy of the fire and post-fire period when the Mallacoota community was in overdrive helping one another and the local animals, and after the constant moving and worry about housing and work, Robinson is exhausted. “It’s a matter of touch and feel it as you go. I just get one thing done at a time.”


Fire news update #4. January 2, 2023

Current fires

It’s here

After a wet spring, much of the east has seen limited fire activity until now. WA continues to burn, with large areas at risk: for instance, check the WA Fire Weather Warning for Central West, Swan In North, Geographe, Brockman, Mortlock, Karroun, Avon.



And in NSW: Authorities warn inland New South Wales may be facing the most "significant grassfire season" in more than a decade due to high fuel loads in the wake of heavy rainfall.

Grass and vegetation growth across western and central-west NSW have been supercharged by the record rains that have flooded river systems this year.


Last week a fire in western lutruwita/ Tasmania impacted the mining town of Rosebery, destroying several significant and historic buildings. Tasmania's west was forecast to experience above-normal fire potential this summer, following continued dry conditions.


And fires are taking off in inland Victoria, especially in the grassy agricultural zones of the centre, north and west.

Meanwhile, Chile has seen extraordinary wildfire behavior devastate local communities. Drier-than-normal conditions, heavy winds, and a high number of human-caused starts or arsons are fueling multiple incidents around the country.

The community of Viña del Mar saw hundreds of homes destroyed and multiple civilian casualties. A State of Catastrophe was declared with The Chilean President Gabriel Boric Font declaring: "I have instructed a State of Constitutional Exception of Catastrophe to be decreed in order to have all the necessary tools to fight the fires that affect Viña del Mar.

The Ministry of Agriculture has released a statement that an Air Tractor, commonly known as a SEAT or Single Engine Air Tanker, crashed while operating on a wildfire in the Galvarino region. Sadly, the pilot was killed.


Climate change and fires

Wildfires are climbing up the snowiest mountains of the western U.S.

In the western United States, natural periods of fire and snow are cyclical. The summer brings wildfire season, and the winter brings ski season. But as the globe warms, these cycles have become erratic and less reliable, with dramatic impacts on the region’s vital water supply.

Now, researchers have shown that severe wildfires are diminishing many snowpacks on mountain slopes by leaving them exposed to sun and soot.


First Nations and fire

What if Indigenous women ran controlled burns?

The Karuk Tribe’s first-of-its-kind training seeks to change firefighting culture.

Historically, in Káruk society, women were responsible for maintaining village areas with fire. Men burned, too, but farther away, usually on remote hunting grounds. But cultural fire was suppressed in 1911, when the Weeks Act outlawed igniting fires on public lands. Today, that colonialist law is still considered a conservation landmark.

Recently, however, prescribed burns have gained favor with the Forest Service, and in 2008, it worked with The Nature Conservancy and several agencies from the Department of the Interior to organize the first TREX. They’ve occurred around the country ever since.


Fire culture

Three years since the Mallacoota fire

On Thursday 1 January 2020, the fires that had already burnt 1.3 million hectares in the East Gippsland and North East areas of Victoria, killing millions of animals, were declared the worst fire season Australia had ever seen.

In Mallacoota, tourists and residents were forced to seek refuge on the beach as fires burnt towards the town. Many were evacuated by boat. Volunteer and career firefighters worked for many days to defend the town. It was one of the worst days of the Black Summer fires.


How Hollywood gets wildfires all wrong

The new CBS drama series Fire Country, about a group of prisoners turned volunteer firefighters in Northern California, is aflame with the raging pyrotechnics and human melodrama that audiences have come to expect from pop culture takes on wildfires and the people who bravely tackle them.

But despite its popularity with the public, Fire Country hasn't been a big hit with firefighters.

"It's just another traumatized Hollywood production," Eugene, Oregon-based firefighter Megan Bolten told NPR.


Fire and community resilience

Cobargo sets micro grid ambition as part of bushfire recovery effort

(Behind pay wall).


Fire and biodiversity

As dry season looms, Sumatra villagers hope their peat restoration pays off

Community-led efforts to restore degraded peatlands in Indonesia’s Riau province could be put to the test in early 2023 as the dry season sets in.

Riau is the perennial epicenter of the burning season on Sumatra Island, and is expected to have a more intense dry season after three consecutive years of wetter-than-usual conditions due to La Niña.

A broad coalition of local governments, communities, researchers and NGOs have been working to restore peatlands that had been drained in preparation for planting, with the hope that restoring water levels will prevent burning.


Take action

We know that logging of native forest drives increased risk of devastating wildfire.

With a new environment minister in Victoria, there is a good opportunity for the government to bring forward it's planned end to native forest logging. You can support this call here.

Fire News update, #3. December 19, 2022

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. This newsletter provides a weekly update on news relating to fire, climate, community and natural resilience, and land management. It is sent out each Monday morning during fire season.

Current fires

Bushfire emergency continues for parts of Perth's south as 100 firefighters battle blaze

The fire season continues in SW WA:

There are 100 firefighters on the scene, trying to contain an out-of-control bushfire threatening lives and homes in the southwest of Perth.

Overnight wind changes are expected to hamper efforts to contain the fire, Incident Controller David Gill warned.

"That'll put some pressure on the western end of the fire edge and may push the fire closer to the coast later this evening,"


Wildfires rip through Chile as temperatures soar

As much of Australia slowly moves towards fire season, soaring temperatures in Chile have intensified wildfires across parts of the country.


IMAGE: The 30,000 foot view of the wildfires in Chile. South America’s fire season is heating up.



Climate change and fires

Australian Firefighters Climate Alliance seeks your views.

What issues do you want the AFCA to work on this summer? Their campaign last fire season focused on encouraging the federal government to lift it's climate ambition. Here are the ideas submitted so far. You can contact them via their website.


Fire culture

Issues that matter to firefighters.

A look at California’s summer

Although it was a long fire season across North America, in California, there was a ‘a welcome change of pace for fire-weary’ communities.

It has indeed been a remarkably different year. A couple of factors led to that: we didn’t have lightning igniting hundreds of fires simultaneously, and the weather was a little better, though it certainly wasn’t perfect—we had a six or seven day period of the highest temperatures ever recorded in California. Luckily that heat didn’t come with wind this year. We have seen more prescribed burns and thinning in the last five years, and some of these fuel treatments reduced fire behavior to allow for more effective suppression. Also, CalFire increased resources for initial attack, picking up fires as early as possible.


Fire and community resilience

Lessons on Resistance From a Child of the First Climate-Change Generation

In the climate communications field, we debate constantly and bitterly about the ways we talk about climate change. Our stories can’t be too depressing—then people will shut down. They can’t be too rosy—that would be misleading. And that’s just when we’re talking about how to communicate to adults. When it comes to children, even the communicators seem to shut down. No one wants to think about looking into those sweet, innocent faces and tell them the truth about the world they’ve been brought into.

But, as James Baldwin once said, “the children are always ours. Every single one of them. All around the globe.” And it is our job, as their elders, to make them ready to face the world that awaits them. It is our responsibility to tell them about climate change. After all, they can see it with their naked eyes. If we don’t tell them, they will tell us.


Clashing laws need to be fixed if we want to live in bushfire-prone areas

As we prepare for the next major fire season, it’s vital we take a close look at our laws. Why? Because these laws can clash in ways that make it harder for us to prepare.

In recent years, planning laws have been changed to make it easier to fell trees and clear vegetation to keep our homes safe. Some of these came out of the review of Victoria’s catastrophic 2009 Black Saturday fires, where many houses nestled in bush burned. But these changes to the rules about clearing native vegetation can also make it harder for us to preserve habitat – and can give us a false sense of security, encouraging us to settle deeper and deeper into the fire-prone bush.


Fire and biodiversity

Bad fire science can kill our threatened species

Phil Zylstra takes another look at fuel reduction burning.

Australia has the world’s worst record for mammal extinction – and we know fire is one of the main culprits. Yet prescribed burning relies on outdated or even disproved theories and assumptions about fire.

Bad fire science is killing our threatened species, but alternatives are available. These approaches reinforce, rather than disrupt, natural ecological controls on forest fire. They include traditional Indigenous fire knowledge, and modern techniques to minimise the extent of dense regrowth in the landscape.

By cooperating with nature to minimise fire risk, we can protect species that have persisted through aeons.

Fire News update, #2, December 12, 2022

Current fires

Flood-impacted communities among those facing fire risk this summer

Regions impacted by this year’s floods are among the communities at highest risk of fire, with the latest seasonal outlook indicating large parts of inland New South Wales and southern Queensland are facing above normal fire potential this season.

The Seasonal Bushfire Outlook for Summer 2022, released today by AFAC, the National Council for Fire and Emergency Services, predicts parts of Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Tasmania, Queensland and a large section of inland New South Wales will all face above normal fire potential this summer.

The outlook shows the vast majority of Australia is facing normal, or above normal, fire potential.

Across the country only the ACT and parts of Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales are expected to experience below normal fire potential.

The heavy rain has fuelled strong grass growth across much of western NSW. RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers said the state was facing its most significant grass fire threat in more than 20 years, particularly for western parts of NSW.

Story here.

Its happening in WA

As the area experiences an extreme heatwave, there are multiple fires burning in northern WA.

And as Western Australia heads into another risky bushfire season, communities ravaged by fire in recent years say they are worried about their safety, despite being better equipped to deal with a disaster. News stories from the ABC quote ‘stretched’ volunteers, failure to improve local phone black spots, and lack of preparedness in some communities as a problem.

On Tuesday, the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council advised drier parts of southern Western Australia to prepare for "above normal fire potential" this summer. 

Check Emergency WA for details on specific fires.

Climate change and fires


Wildfires: Burning Through State Budgets

Wildfires in the United States have become more catastrophic and expensive in recent years, with the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service nearly doubling their combined spending on wildfire management in the last decade.

As more frequent and severe fires drive up public spending, policymakers at all levels of government are faced with decisions about how to pay for the diverse array of interventions required to deal with them.

Story from Pew Trusts here.

First Nations and fire

Please feel free to send content for next time.

Fire culture

Issues that impact on firefighters.

Remembering the Linton tragedy


December 2 marked the anniversary of the 1998 Linton bushfire which tragically claimed the lives of five CFA firefighters from Geelong West Fire Brigade.

‘We honour and remember the loss of Matthew Armstrong, Jason Thomas, Chris Evans, Stuart Davidson and Garry Vredeveldt, and the sacrifice they made in protection of their community’.

‘In honouring them, we also recognise the important lessons that we learned as an organisation from that day and the significant improvements that have been made to our safety procedures, communication, training and equipment as a result.

The Linton fire brought in the biggest change in training requirements for our members in CFA history. This included the introduction of compulsory minimum skills training and annual skill-based refresher training prior to each summer fire season’.

(Text: CFA. Image: Warburton CFA)

A reminder that our work can be dangerous:

A firefighter received a head injury whilst fighting a blaze in northern NSW last week. She was admitted to hospital for observation and - thankfully - has now been released.

'Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) and Rural Fire Service (RFS) crews battled explosions and large blaze in a vehicle scrap yard at Trenayr, north of Grafton on Monday NOV 28.

More than 15 fire trucks responded to the emergency in Trenayr Road, just before 6pm on Monday evening.'

Story here.

Fire and community resilience

CITIZEN LEADERSHIP AND COMMUNITY RESILIENCE: An exploration of Australian disaster affected communities

An interesting report on community resilience and community leadership after natural disasters.

‘The project was created in the aftermath of the 2019-2020 bushfires, following which all communities were impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has magnified the prospects of economic recession, heightened concerns around climate change, and
emphasised with the increasing implications of social polarisation and inequity. All of these factors impact community resilience.

Connecting with communities in South Australia and Victoria, representatives from each community volunteered to be trained in the elicitation of ‘lived-experience’ stories, and to collect stories from within their communities which explored experiences of citizen leadership and its role in community resilience. Report here.

Home insurance rethink needed with continued climate change-related disasters

From Jeremy Moss:

We must prepare to experience extreme weather events like damaging floods, bushfires and cyclones into the future - according to the latest CSIRO State of the Climate report out last week, while hundreds of thousands of people find their homes have become uninsurable or premiums becoming unaffordable.

What's really needed is a total rethink of how we do home insurance, and for the federal government to step up nationally, as they did with medical insurance. It is vital there is some mechanism for people in these disaster zones to affordably insure these homes. It is unfair to transfer the risk of floods and bushfires onto households, especially vulnerable ones. Story here.

Australian Resilience Corps

The ARC is described as a ‘growing number of Australians who want to assist communities to prepare for disasters and extreme weather events like fires and floods. Resilience and preparedness can take many forms, from helping to prepare a home for the fire season through to being equipped to provide emotional support to someone impacted by a flood. We welcome all volunteers, whatever your ability and capacity to contribute.’

They say it is a ‘national volunteer network determined to reduce the devastation caused by fire and flood across our great land.

‘Working with and through our existing volunteer partners, our aim is to create a culture focused on building resilience. By bringing together corporates, volunteer partners and community members, we will be able to reduce the impact of fire and flood disasters right across Australia’.

Further information available here.

Fire and biodiversity

We all know how terrible the damage can be to creeks and rivers after a bad bushfire. This is some serious stream side stabilisation from the USA after this summer’s fires:


“Wildfires can = vegetation loss, erosion & increased water runoff that may = flooding, + sediment, debris flow, & other damage. #FireJobs assist w recovery efforts by installing erosion & water run-off control structures”.

Courtesy of  the National Interagency Fire Center in in Boise, Idaho.

Prescribed burn gets away in WA

‘Another escaped prescribed burn turned into a biodiversity destroying and animal killing inferno. You can see in this area not only complete crown scorch but some completely bare areas. Many of the trees will not have survived, or will die in the coming hot weather. As for the smaller plants and animals, they are toast. If any animals do escape a burn like this, their food source and cover from predators is no longer there, so there is a high chance of mortality as they will be forced into the territories of other animals or be vulnerable to starvation and predation from foxes and cats. It’s time we had a proper review of our current approaches to prescribed burning which is having a profound impact on biodiversity while making our landscape more flammable and increasing the risk of wildfires, including through escaped prescribed burns like this one’.

Source: Fire and Biodiversity WA (FaBWA)

Fire News update, #1 December 1, 2022

Current fires

Fire season outlook

The Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) released its seasonal bushfire outlook for the 2022 summer on Tuesday, which predicted an above-normal fire risk for central western and southern Western Australia, Central Australia, southern Queensland and inland NSW.

The higher risk is due to flourishing vegetation after recent rains, which mean increased fuel loads.

In some good news, wetter areas across Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT are expected to have below-normal fire risk at the start of summer, thanks to recent heavy rainfall or flooding and reduced vegetation following the 2019-20 bushfire seasonStory hereThe AFAC report can be found here.

Climate change and fires

State of the Climate report 2022

Produced by The Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO, the most recent SoC report has been released. It contains significant data relating to water in the landscape and fire risk:

Australia’s climate has warmed by an average of 1.47 ± 0.24 °C since national records began in 1910.

There has been a decline of around 15 per cent in April to October rainfall in the southwest of Australia since 1970. Across the same region, May to July rainfall has seen the largest decrease, by around 19 per cent since 1970.

In the south-east of Australia, there has been a decrease of around 10 per cent in April to October rainfall since the late 1990s. 

There has been a decrease in streamflow at most gauges across Australia since 1975.

Rainfall and streamflow have increased across parts of northern Australia since the 1970s.

You can read the report here.

‘Terrible for the climate’: Victoria’s native logging emissions equivalent to 700,000 cars

Native forest logging in Victoria produces about 3 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year, equivalent to the pollution from 700,000 medium-sized cars or double the state’s domestic aviation sector, research shows.

For the first time, Victoria’s native logging emissions have been calculated and made public.

Carbon emissions produced from logging have long been unclear because they are not separated in official figures from the carbon dioxide absorbed by forests and forestry plantations.

Article from The Age available here.

Many forests will become highly flammable for at least 30 extra days per year unless we cut emissions

Without strong climate action, forests on every continent will be highly flammable for at least 30 extra days per year by the end of the century – and this fire threat is far greater for some forests including the Amazon.

‘Our results show that forest fire becomes much more likely above a certain threshold of vapour pressure deficit in many regions. This threshold depends on the type of forest.

Alarmingly, climate change is increasing the number of days the planet passes these crucial thresholds. But by urgently bringing global emissions down, we can minimise the number of extra wildfire days’.

Story from The Conversation available here.

First Nations and fire

There has been a lot of recent debate about how and where cultural burning should be used in the landscape. For instance University of Melbourne's associate professor of geography, earth and atmospheric sciences and research Michael-Shawn Fletcher has published extensively in recent months.

He says "If you take away frequent fire, which promotes grasses, you start to get an increase in shrubs and trees such as eucalyptus," and that techniques implemented by First Nations people should be used in caring for country.

Check here for recent work by Michael and others called 'The Fiery Curse of Conservation', which says 'Land-use legislation has driven catastrophic bushfires in southeast Australia. Now is the time for Aboriginal people with the knowledge and desire to return their Country to health'.

Centre of Excellence for Indigenous and Environmental Histories and Futures established

Around 30 institutions are participating in a new Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Indigenous and Environmental Histories and Futures (CIEHF) to be headquartered at James Cook University (JCU) that aims to 'bring Indigenous and environmental histories to the forefront of land and sea management'.

“The recent Australian State of the Environment Report paints a grim picture of how climate change, land-clearing, and habitat modification are impacting the Australian environment.

“But conventional approaches to land and sea management frequently fail to incorporate or value Indigenous histories and knowledges, leading to poorer outcomes for Country.

“We simply can’t plan for the future without understanding both the long and short-term interactions of people, climate, lands, and seas."

Further information.

Fire and land management

The endless debate about the role of prescribed fire continues as it has for many years, often descending into a variation of the culture wars. Some recent pieces:

Australian Rural and Regional News bushfire page

If you are interested in the ongoing debate on fire, fuel reduction and land management, the fire page on ARRN (Australian Rural and Regional News) is worth checking. It encourages authors from various perspectives, then allows debate.

My recent piece on my changing approach to fire is available on the ARNN page here.

Effective fire management critical to health and survival of Australian forests

‘Recent reporting about the risks of conducting prescribed burning in the ACT's forests fails to recognise the critical role fire plays in maintaining the health of Australian forest ecosystems and ignores the lived history of bushfires in the ACT. Fire has always been part of the Australian landscape. Therefore, it makes no sense to try to keep it out of forests for 40 to 50 years, as suggested by Professor David Lindenmayer.’ Canberra Times, author Tony Bartlett. Tony argues that ‘Nurturing effective partnerships with Aboriginal people needs to be a key part of our fire strategy’.

Story from The Canberra Times available here.

Fire and logging debate

Professor David Lindenmayer is widely regarded as one of the world's leading forest and woodland ecologists and conservation biologists. He has written extensively on the links between fire and logging.

Research following the 2009 Black Saturday fires showed that approximately 10 years after logging there was a seven times increase in the risk of high-severity fire. This sharply elevated risk lasts for around 30 years (that is, until the forest is about 40 years old). It then declines. The lowest risk is for forests 100 or more years old. That is, old forests burn at significantly lower severity than young forests.

Story from The Age available here.

Fire culture – issues that matter to fire fighters

Smoke pollution has become a new public health threat.

Persistent smoke pollution has become a new public health threat, with wide-ranging impacts to our minds and bodies. Tiny soot particles are capable of breaching the barriers of the lungs and skin, and can cause wide-ranging damage. “Air pollution that comes from wildfires affects every organ in our body,” says Aaron Bernstein, who leads the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment. Here’s an overview of the concerning health effects researchers have uncovered so far.

Story from Outside Online.

On the fireline, emotional trauma is a hidden threat

As wildfires worsen, local, state and federal governments need to take measures to lessen the enormous and growing strain on wildland firefighters. Agencies should not only hire more firefighters but increase their access to therapy and other mental health resources. As more and more of us depend on the hard work firefighters do, we owe it to them to become better advocates for their safety and survival. That means protecting their mental health.

Story from High Country News available here.

Fire and community resilience

Our emergency response system is being overwhelmed.

As noted recently by the Climate Council and Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, climate change is driving a new era of ‘unnatural disasters’ – and as a country we are not prepared to cope with more frequent disasters. This year, we have seen how consecutive, record-breaking events can overwhelm emergency services and damage affected communities ability to rebuild.

Our emergency response system is being overwhelmed. Our emergency services were established in a time before the effects of climate change were being widely felt. Some ideas on how to respond available here.


CFA brigades and SES Units show climate leadership

Most firefighters know that climate change is leading to longer and more intense fire seasons. This is changing how we fight fires. It highlights the fact that, as a local and global community, we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as a matter of urgency.

Many local brigades are also doing their bit to reduce emissions. Installing renewable power and storage can also build the resilience of local brigades when fire threatens town electricity supplies. Here are a few stories from around Victoria, compiled by the Australian Firefighters climate alliance.

Fire and biodiversity

Climate change and the Victorian Alps – fire forum:

If you’re paying attention to what is happening in the mountains, it can be depressing. Some of the obvious impacts of climate change include more intense fires and longer fire seasons, which are leading to loss of snow gum woodlands and alpine ash, and dieback in the snow gums, which is caused by a beetle.

In order to address some of these issues, Friends of the Earth and Upper Ovens Valley Landcare Group teamed up to host a forum called ‘Climate change and the Victorian Alps: preparing for the fires of the future’.

You can read a summary of the presentations here. And a video of the presentations can be found here.


A key speaker, Dr Philip Zylstra, Adjunct Associate Professor, at Curtin University stressed that burning forests to reduce the fire risk actually increases it. Vast areas of the Alps have been burnt multiple times, which has created massive areas of highly flammable regrowth.

Instead of doing fuel reduction burning at a landscape level, Phil recommends we limit this to much smaller areas close to homes and other human infrastructure. Intense fuel reduction burning in these zones has been shown to slightly reduce risk to human assets. We should leave the broader forested landscape of the mountains to grow older and hence move into a less flammable phase.

For this to happen, we need to reduce fire in the vegetation communities of the mountains.


Background information