Saturday, 19 October 2013

Smoke gets in your nose

This morning I went outside and could smell and see smoke.  Not good, so indoors to phone the Captain of the Bush Fire Brigade.  He advised that it was just smoke blowing down from the fires in the Blue Mountains and Southern Highlands!   The nearest of these is about 160km to the North East.

Here are a couple of images to show the density of the haze.

This is effectively towards the hills behind our house.
 Looking across the Hoskinstown Plain.
Today was a full moon.  As a result of the smoke in the air it was a very colourful one:
Not related to smoke from fires!
But possibly smoke from tyres.  On the evening of 20 October I was using the Flightradar Pro application on Frances iPad  and noticed that flights into Sydney were doing a whole lot of circling.

Every flight seemed to be delayed and many of them for more than 45 minutes!  My initial thought was that it was due to smoke from the bush fires, which is why it is posted here.  However the SMH on 21/10 revealed that it was due to a plane landing without tyres on some of its wheels! Oh joy, that I am not involved in that mess.

When this is all over I look forward with interest to see some analysis of what ignited the fires.  As far as I am aware there were no thunderstorms around at the time, and I don't believe the Australian bush spontaneously combusts.  I am not sure of the full range of possible causes but the following list is most of those that are frequently identified by spokespersons for the firies.
  1. Arson (ABC news suggests one suspected case .. so far).
  2. Discarded cigarette butt (I have spoken to Park Rangers about this in the past and they believe this to be very very unlikely since they have tried and failed to replicate the process).
  3. Car exhaust on dry bush.
  4. Hazard reduction burn escaping: if anyone lit up a fire for this purpose in the weather conditions when these fires started they should be jailed for life.
  5. Some idiot using equipment inappropriately: a fire in WA was started by someone using an angle grinder near vegetation on a day at 40o, ride-on mowers can cause sparks if a blade hits a rock. 
  6. Almost as a subset of that, it appears there are rumours that the biggest fire was started by military explosives training.  But I will say no more about that until it is proven or otherwise
  7. Clashing power lines.  
After typing the above I came across a story in the SMH which aims at the same sort of topic with some interesting details. Even later I found some details about the forensic analysis on the ABC site.

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