Page 14 - January 2020
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Australian Bush Fire’s
For those of you who follow the WCoFF Facebook page, you will have noted the latest article posted by the NSW Rural Fire Service showing a horrendous video of the impact of the fires across the sate. The fires there have been of a “monster” size this year (as big as the city of Sydney itself was quoted). Many of you will have seen the news pictures of the pall of smoke lying over Sydney. Some of the comments underline just how serious many communities are affected by these fires; much praise also for the rural fire brigade fire fighters putting their lives on line to protect a local community.
The fires are still raging in areas such as the famous Blue Mountains, an hour’s train ride from central Sydney. As of 13 December 2019, the fires have burnt almost 3,000,000 hectares, destroyed over 700 houses and claimed 6 lives. Fire fighters were tackling some 56 independent fires. On 12 November a catastrophic fire danger was declared in the
Greater Sydney region for the first time since the introduction of this level. The Illawarra and Greater Hunter areas (famous for its wine) also experienced catastrophic fire danger levels.
Reinforcements from all over Australia were called in to assist and relieve exhausted local crews. On 11 November it was reported that up to 300 firefighters and
support staff had been sent from from Victoria and 100 from Western Australia (although both these states are also experiencing bad fires). On 12 November the Federal government announced that the defence force was providing air support to the firefighting effort and was preparing to provide manpower and logistical support. Meanwhile, the Government is coming under severe criticism itself for its lacklustre support for measures to counteract global warming, seen by many as a major contributing cause to “higher than normal fire issues”. Dry hot conditions as well as high winds are contributing to the danger.
We can empathise with one example; Alastair Breingan, a volunteer firefighter (a retired IT worker), fought fires on the mid- north coast with his brigade for 10- day stretches during October and November, sometimes putting in 12-hour shifts. In mid-November he saw a fire roaring towards his bushland property near the village of Upper Lansdowne and stayed behind to protect his house. “It was
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