Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A View from the Top - Coree Fire Tower

The ACT has 4 fire towers surrounding it that are manned throughout the bushfire season. They are located on One Tree Hill to the North, Kowen Forest the the East, Mt Tennent to the South, and Mt Coree to the West. Tower operators can see all of the ACT and well into NSW and maintain a constant vigil looking for smoke and fires throughout the territory. They also provide regular weather reports that are used in IMTs and on the ground to assist in fire supression and planning activities.

The tower at Mt Coree has some of the best views around. Simon Demajo was up at Coree and took some photos of the tower in operation. Thanks for the photos Simon.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Coonabarabran Fire

ACT Rural Fire Service member, Tim Borough, who works for property section of the ANU in Canberra, was sent to Coonabarabran the day after the fire went through the Siding Spring Observatory. There was no qualified tanker driver available so Tim donned a set of yellows and helped black out the site. See more stories here:

ACT RFS member, Tim Borough, mans the Siding Spring Observatory tanker for blackout duty.
Helitak 274, normally based at Camden, lands at Siding Springs Observatory, Coonabarabran. Photo: Tim Borough

Tim feeds the sheep and cattle.

Helitak 274 takes off for more water-bombing of the fire. Photo: Tim Borough

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sand Hills Fire (near Bungendore, NSW)

Late on Tuesday 8 Jan 2013, an ACT RFS Strike Team was sent to the Sand Hills Fire near Bungendore to assist in the containment of a fast-moving grass / scrub fire. The Kings Highway was closed while crews back burned and kept the fire on the north side of the Kings Highway.  A number of rural houses were protected with tankers standing by.

Note: If any ACT or NSW RFS crew members have more photos of this incident, can you please email them to gary.hooker@bigpond.com and he will put the best shots up on this Blog.

ACT Strike Force responding to Sand Hills Fire along the Kings Highway, near Bungendore, NSW. Photo Anura Samara
The Kings Highway was closed due to the fire threat.Photo: Anura Samara
SOU10 crew get ready to attack fire approaching the Kings Highway. Photo: Garry Mayo

A NSW Unit blacking out the perimter. Photo: Garry Mayo

Fire approaches Kings Highway. Photo: Garry Mayo
Running grass fire. Photo: Garry Mayo
Heavy tankers fill up from a dam. Photo: Garry Mayo
The wind kept changing direction.  Photo: Tina Siver
Running flame in the paddocks. Photo: Garry Mayo
The grassfire approaches a property with the crew of MLO10 ready to defend it. Photo: Rob Allard

The crew of MLO10 along with NSW RFS Units successfully knocks down the approaching flame. Photo: Rob Allard
The MLO10 crew protecting the boundary fence of a property. Photo: Rob Allard

MLO10 and NSW heavy tankers protect the buildings on the property. Photo: Rob Allard

Flames running up the trees as the fire passed the property. Photo: Rob Allard

The fire passes through leaving smouldering scrub. Photo: Rob Allard

NSW and ACT Tankers on the Kings Highway. Photo: Garry Mayo

A Candle blows in the wind. Photo: Garry Mayo

Crews backburning along Kings Highway. Photo: Garry Mayo

9 January 2013 - Containment work and mop up continues.........

Burnt Bugs Bunny on side of tree. Bungendore is renowned worldwide for its impressive display of teddy bears and other fluffy creatures sitting in trees along the Kings Highway. Photo: Tim Borough
Work continues to secure the edge of fire near the Kings Highway. Photo: Tim Borough

Foam is used to suppress re-ignition of the tree. Photo: Tim Borough
The Rural Fire Service chopper sucks water out of a dam in a paddock. Photo: Tim Borough
The RFS helicopter gets ready to dump water onto the fire. Photo: Tim Borough

Back burning along the Kings Highway. Photo: John Jenkins

More back burning along the Kings highway - the flames took off! Photo: John Jenkins
GCRK10 crew burning along the edge of the Kings Highway. Photo: John Jenkins

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

ACT Region Fires 5-9 Jan 2013

Between 5 and 9 January, ACT RFS crews attended numerous fires created by lightning strikes after a storm came through from the south east. The pressure was on to get these fires under control before the catastrophic conditions of 8 January2013 hit.

There are too many fires to list individually however photos from Brigade firefighters will be added to this Blog as they become available. Could all ACT RFS members who have attended any of these fires please send your best photos with a caption and location details to gary.hooker@bigpond.com and he will add them to this Blog.

ACT RFS Strike Team members Ben Saywell, Dominique Rowson and Garry Mayo mopping up at the Mt Fairy fire near Bungendore
The Firestarter Storm - 5 Jan 2013

This storm came in from the South East at around 5:00pm on 5 Jan and started numerous fires due to lightning strikes. This photo was taken from the Monaro Highway looking towards the Coast.

Bryan Cunynghame and Michael Blaseotto plotting lighting strike locations based on bearings provided by the crews from One-Tree, Kowan, Tennant and Coree Fire Towers on 5 Jan.

An ACT RFS fire truck overheats in the 39 degree temperatures as the storm front approaches on 5 Jan 2013. The ESA workshops crew were quick to get this vehicle back on the road.
Kowan Area Fires
There were a number of lightning strikes with direct hits in the pine trees in the Kowan forest are near Queanbeyan. Kowen Tower had called in the lightning strike locations and Parks units were quick to respond and contained several fires before they got out of hand.
 Mt Fairy Fire - about 12 kms north of Bungendore on the Tarago Road

An ACT Strike Force team comprising about 8 fire units was tasked to assist NSW in perfoming overnight mopping up and containment operations on a property near Mt Fairy. This gave NSW crews a break ready to hand over again in the morning.
ACT Strike Force team members waiting to be briefed at the Mt Fairy Fire

ACT RFS Strike Team members Ben Saywell, Dominique Rowson and Garry Mayo mopping up at the Mt Fairy fire near Bungendore
Mt Fairy - The fire was contained but there were lots of trees and logs showering sparks across the paddock.
Mt Fairy - Firefighters were surrounded by fire but managed to keep the perimeter secure overnight.
Mt Fairy - Firefighters putting out a pine tree in a paddock with 300 sheep in it.

 Sunday 6 January - Another firestarter storm!

A second storm front came through late in the afternoon on Sunday 6 Jan 2013. This storm also started more fires in and around the ACT including Namadgi National Park, Cooma, Bungendore, Gundaroo areas. Photo taken from Guises Creek Station located on the Monaro Highway near Royalla.
 Tuesday 8 Jan - Catastrophic Conditions

ACT Rural Fire Service crews on high alert ready to respond to any fires on Tuesday 8 Jan 2013

All available ACT fire resources were fully crewed and on standby ready for the potential catastrophic day ahead. A number of ACT crews responded to Bungendore and other fires in the region later that afternoon.   

An aerial view of the Oaks Estate fire which stated on 8 January 2013 during catastrophic fire weather. A heavy and quick response from ACT Rural Fire Service units successfully contained the fire.