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Big bushfire out of Perth, and the Coulson LAT's are at it ...


onetrack
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We've had a huge bushfire running out of control just NW of Perth since Monday. There's been well over 70 houses lost to the fire, and it has burnt out over 9000Ha of National Park, Reserves and private land.

Many of the properties lost, are what are classed as "Rural Residential" subdivisions here - blocks generally between 2Ha and 40Ha. The people with these properties usually run a few animals, or a small business, or small agricultural operations.

The fire has been fanned by strong winds, and it's still out of control after 2 full days of intense fire control efforts. It started in an Eastern Hills suburb, Wooroloo at Midday, Monday 1st Feb.

 

In December, the W.A. organised to station a Coulson C130 LAT in Busselton. This tanker aircraft is currently in operation over the fire. The Coulson B737-300 from NSW was called on, and flew across yesterday, arriving at 17:30Hrs last night.

The B737-300 and the C130 are both in action today. 4 Eurocopter Dauphin water bombers flew right over the top of my house in close single file at 7:00AM yesterday, they must have been right at 500 feet, and the noise was deafening!

 

Unfortunately, a large part of SW W.A. and the Perth region is also in lockdown, due to a single COVID-19 outbreak from a Quarantine Hotel security guard.

Everyone is confined to home except for essential food purchases, essential work reasons, and emergency work. Everyone has been ordered to wear a mask when outside their home, and this is making the whole firefighting scenario doubly difficult.

 

The city and Northern suburbs were covered in thick choking smoke and ash yesterday. Light winds made it worse, and it didn't disperse until this morning.

This afternoon the wind has picked up again, strongly from the S and SE, and this is going to make life difficult again for the fire crews.

 

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

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2021_Wooroloo_bushfires

 

Coulsons B737 - https://flightaware.com/live/flight/BMR210

 

Coulsons C130 - https://flightaware.com/live/flight/BMBR132

 

https://www.watoday.com.au/national/western-australia/wooroloo-bushfire-live-71-homes-lost-as-hot-windy-weather-fans-perth-hill-fire-20210202-p56yxl.html

 

 

 

Edited by onetrack
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Really bad things bushfires. Where I'm located is very prone to them and I'd rather live somewhere else because it's always on your mind on the days where it's hot and windy, and b@gger all you can do to stop them. . Devastating for those that lose all. Hope it's controlled soon, Onetrack but only good rain will do that properly. No lives lost so that's a blessing. May luck be with you all.  Nev

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Bruce - I've got no concerns, as I live in an inner-city suburb, only 5kms NE of the CBD. But the stepdaughter bought a house on 2Ha in early 2020 at Stoneville, up in the Darling Range, and not far from where the fire started at Wooroloo.

Their block is heavily timbered and the previous owners ignored all the firebreak requirements, and grew trees and bushes right up to the house, meaning they've had a battle trying to clear up around the house.

They were pretty worried when the fire started, and were piling stuff in the car ready to evacuate - but the fire went in a Nor-Westerly direction, and didn't get any closer than about 8kms to them.

 

We've got an intense rain-bearing low-pressure system working its way down the West Coast. It's currently about 1000kms N of Perth, but it's expected to bring rain to the Northern Wheatbelt, and Perth, by the weekend.

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Well, as of this afternoon, the fire is still out of control in the Western areas, and the wind has picked up considerably from the SE and it's making life hard for everyone.

 

The smaller firebombers are not working today because of dangerous flying conditions due to the very strong SE winds coming over the Darling Scarp.

 

This is causing mountain rotors and eddy currents in the wind and as the fire is now mostly on the Western flanks of the Scarp, and even out onto the Coastal Plain, it's making flying conditions very poor for the lighter fixed-wing bombers.

 

The 2 LAT's are still doing good work, though, and they're still working today, as they operate and can drop from a greater height. Yesterday, the C130 and B737 did 11 runs in total, and dropped 200,000 litres of retardant.

 

The LAT drops were very effective and stopped the fire from wiping out quite a number of houses and properties in the Shady Hills rural-residential development.

 

The LAT's are operating from Busselton because they're unable to utilise Pearce Airbase due to runway refurbishment. Pearce is very close to the Western flanks of the fire, and it would have been ideal to operate from.

 

As of 2:00PM today (Thurs 4th Feb), the tally is 81 houses lost, and another very substantial number of outbuildings, sheds, vehicles, and other property infrastructure lost - as well as a lot of livestock killed.

 

Over 800 power poles have been burnt and 100 transformers lost, and power is out to a wide area. This is also affecting communications, and I would think some communication towers may also have been lost.

 

The total damage tally will not be known until probably early next week, but it's certainly going to run into multiple 100's of millions of dollars, just in individual property losses alone.

 

The police and fire authorities have pinned down the ignition point of the fire, but still have no idea of what actually started it. It is believed no criminality was involved, but police are still looking for answers.

 

https://www.perthnow.com.au/news/bushfires/homes-lost-in-wooroloo-bushfires-rises-to-81-ng-b881787588z

 

https://flightaware.com/live/airport/YBLN

 

 

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I have seen aerial photos of some burnt out houses and what I cannot understand is. The house is burnt completely, but there are trees with green foliage on them right alongside the house. The trees did not burn, so it must have been grass that burnt right up to the house.

I live in similar conditions and keep the grass down for quite a distance from the house.

I have fought many grass fires, which is what we get mostly and the way they are trying to control them now does not work

My method is to pick a spot for a break downwind, which is ahead of the fire and light a back burn. In some cases it would be necessary to cut a small break to prevent the backburn taking off in the wrong direction, but usually it works.

I saw a big fire locally a couple of years ago which was heading for a road, which would be a good fire break. The firies were nearly there when I saw the fire so I thought they would back burn from the road and starve the fire of fuel. What they did was wait at the road and let it jump the road, then they had to protect a dozen or so houses. We are governed by bureaucrats who say when and where we can light up and the result is more and more homes lost every year.

In about 1976 I fought fires and after a week of mucking about doing as directed to no avail, I lit up the side of the Dawson Highway and stopped the fire We had fought it for about ten miles at that stage.

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Here on the farm, we have a fire-trailer with 1000 liters and a petrol pump. We also have a flat-top ute with 800 liters and another pump.

This 1800 liters equals a standard Vic fire-fighting truck. ( they were crippled by the FLLMHPCVBH * lot and are  denied tank trailers for example )

After the Kinglake fires, the fire insurance premium went up thousands of dollars and the gear was cheaper than the insurance. But somehow the premium has been added to the rates so now we pay the same without being insured.

So far there has been no fire, and it could only be a grass one. Anyway,  I reckon the gear is better than the insurance.

* the translation of this is not PC (Politically Correct ) but here is a clue or 2....  FLL means fat lady lesbians  and BH means bleeding hearts

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A lot of the houses that have burnt, caught fire from flying burning embers. The wind here has been gusting to 70kmh and has been a fairly constant 25-40kmh at other times, apart from a short spell of minimal wind on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.

The embers are basically hot coals, and they set fire to leaves in gutters, thick leaves on the ground (high fuel load) - and they also set fire to evaporative air conditioners.

They can blow into open front sheds and light them up. Ceilings in most homes contain a thick layer of leaves, unless the eaves are totally sealed.

 

They've had spot fires starting up to a km or more from the fire front with blowing embers.

You could start a backburn at a road, but you're placing yourself in great danger in the fire path - which can move at 100kmh, with a 70kmh wind behind it.

Then when you start a backburn, there is every chance you will start a spot fire on the far side of the road, and that spot fire rapidly gets away, and you have another fire front, and you're no better off.

 

https://www.watoday.com.au/national/western-australia/wooroloo-fire-live-firefighters-tireless-battle-through-the-night-to-keep-blaze-from-homes-20210203-p56zc8.html

 

Edited by onetrack
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Quite right willedoo. Sprinklers on the roof and plugged-off gutters full of water should make your place fairly immune, and I wish I could say we had done that stuff. The other thing I should do is make close-fitting shutters for the windows.  

Embers should not get into the roof space here due to the sarking under the tin roof. Anyway, except for the sarking itself,  there is only steel beams and rockwool up there.

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I live with a fair bit of bush around. You can get complacent and start imagining fighting a fire under manageable conditions. Problem is, the fires happen in the worst possible conditions, so it's not possible to be over prepared. Occasionally we've come into November when the hot north easterlies start and there hasn't been a drop of rain for 3 months. With the dry comes leaf drop which increases the danger due to a big body of dead leaves about the place. Add to that a heat wave in the high 30's at least and then a 40 knot wind gets up.  On days like that you just pray some dill doesn't start a fire.

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