Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Australian fire season building

As the fire season in the United States winds down (except for southern California and the southeast) it is beginning to heat up in Australia:
The Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (QFRS) says this week's bushfires in Noosa National Park could be the start of a worse than normal fire season on the Sunshine Coast.

The fires were brought under control yesterday afternoon and most crews were sent home about 10:00pm AEST.

There have been no flare-ups overnight, but the fire service will conduct an aerial surveillance of the area today.

Incident controller Russell Thompson says unless there is a lot of rain soon, the coast could face a bad fire season.

"One thing you can always guarantee if you miss out on a fire season one year and it keeps going that way, eventually when it does come it'll be a big fire season, because you're going to have a huge amount of fuel on the ground from the forests which will make the bushfires a lot worse," Mr Thompson said.

QFRS commissioner Lee Johnson says he is happy with the fire control program in Queensland's national parks.

"We've worked closely on this fire with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, as we do across many parts of Queensland," Mr Johnson said.

"There have been several thousand hazard mitigation burns right across Queensland in the lead-up to this fire season and we certainly help other agencies of government and private land-holders to do that."


Meanwhile, the Rural Fire Service (RFS) expects a tough bushfire season in the Mackay region this year.

RFS area director Andrew Houley says hot weather and northerly winds in recent days have dried out vegetation even further and expects conditions will worsen as winds increase.

Mr Houley says the fire risk is markedly different for each part of the region.

"Up on the top of the highlands where they've had some frosts in winter and now they're coming out and staying dry in some areas, there's quite dry fuel matter," he said.

"Other areas had quite good rain at the end of August, so it's very patchy."


Fire crews in the south-west region are also on full alert for what is shaping as a severe fire season.

QFRS assistant commissioner Tom Dawson says the region's wildfire plans been activated, with strike teams assembling, control centres established and air observation crews up later this week.

He says along with the Lockyer Valley, the Crows Nest region north of Toowoomba and the grasslands of the Arcadia Valley west of Roma, the granite belt is looming as an area of risk.

"They've had some rain and they've got some increased growth at the lower end of those heavily forested areas," Mr Dawson said.

"It's starting to dry out and they haven't had decent fires through there for four or five years.

"Its been spasmodic activity, so we're really watching those fuel loads and the wind direction."
From http://www.abc.net.au

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