Sunday, November 22, 2009

This Is Australia, We Burn

ABC News, 5am :
Firefighters will be given no reprieve with weather conditions expected to deteriorate today with winds and high temperatures forecast.

Overnight 70 fires were burning across the State, mostly in remote and inaccessible terrain in the Blue Mountains the Hawkesbury region and northern areas.

Much of New South Wales is expected to get above 40 degrees, with winds gusting at up to 60 kilometres an hour forecast.

The RFS says under these conditions, firefighting will be extremely difficult and there may be significant threats to property.

It says people on rural properties to the west of Kandos and Rylstone should follow the advice of firefighters.

"If you do not have a Bush Fire Survival Plan, or you have doubts about your ability to protect your property, leave early," a spokesman said.

"Under these conditions fires will be uncontrollable, unpredictable and fast moving.

"Embers will be blown ahead of the fire, creating spot fires in many different directions.

"Spot fires will start up to six kilometres ahead of the main fire and they will move quickly.

"These spot fires may threaten your home earlier than the predicted main fire front."

From The Orstrahyun, February 23 :
In the outskirts of Sydney, up into the Blue Mountains, there are some 1.5 million people living in what could be described as "bushland settings." If conditions in the future were ever to mimic Victoria's on February 7, where would all those people go? And who would do all the evacuating?

In Australia, it's impossible to evacuate 500,000 to 1.5 million people from an area under threat. China evacuates millions, some years more than 20 million, from flood zones every time the super-rains come and rivers rise dangerously so. But it takes days to do it safely, and it's a fantasy to think that we have anywhere near the resources to stage such mass evacuations. In Victoria or New South Wales, unlike China, most of those evacuated would have nowhere to go, and state governments would have nowhere to even tent all those people while a bushfire threat passes.

If climate change has in reality given us an horrific preview this year of what's to come, perhaps the now impossible problems of massive evacuation in Australia will be overcome, eventually. Maybe.

This is Australia. We Burn.

UPDATE from ABC News :

The Rural Fire Service says about 1,000 firefighters are battling more than 100 blazes across the state as temperatures head towards the 40-degree mark.

But the Rylstone and Kandos blazes remain the biggest concern, after a fire threatening rural properties at Gunnedah in the state's north was brought under control.

The Twitter feed of updates from the NSW Fire Service is here :

Up to the minute 'Watch & Act' and 'Emergency Warnings' are also available from here :

The New South Wales Royal Fire Service

ABC News has a dedicated 'Bushfire Emergency' page here, the most comprehensive of all media in Australia.