Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Fires, small and not so small

As a result of a dry couple of months the period in which stuff can be ignited without a formal permit (but with sensible notifications to various people) was extended for end March to end April.  Murphy's Law being what it is, April was a very wet month so the fire risk became very low after about the 5th.

Whatever, on getting back home in early May a few folk sent round notices that they were going to light up their piles.  This seemed like a good idea and the weather looked appropriate for me to send my pile of noxious weeds, stuff I didn't want to put in the compost bins and minor garden prunings up on the 18th of May.  So I rang the RFS in Queanbeyan and sent a couple of emails around the 'hood.

I was a little later with ignition than I had intended but here we go at 12:58.
 2 minutes later, things were well underway.  (I would point out that a hose pipe connected to a good water supply was in the vicinity, but was only required for a damp-down later.)
 By 1320 the volume of combustibles was greatly reduced.
 By 1420 everything was looking rather controlled  ...
 ... but there was still fire down below.
By 1630 my fire was basically dormant but got hosed down to ensure it stayed that way, even though the weather forecast didn't mention any significant wind over night.

Frances had mentioned seeing a smoke plume as she came home from Queanbeyan at lunchtime and had wondered if it was mine.  She thought it looked "a bit big" and ceased worrying as she drove along and realised it wasn't in the direction of our house.

I'll say it was "a bit big".  Here are a couple of snaps of it at 1630.

It was coming from approximately the direction of one the notifying neighbours (about 8km away) so I rang him to see if he was having problems.  He said that his fire had been quite modest and put out on Sunday (17th) and this was a Hazard Reduction Burn by the Molonglo.  So I looked up the RFS fire information page and found this map.
I was a bit surprised that it was Cuumbeun since this is a fair way from the Molonglo.  However on Tuesday morning there was a story in Canberra Times about a Hazard Reduction Burn 3x the size of the one in Cuumbeun being undertaken in Kowen Forest by the ACT (this is presumably in the native vegetation not the pines which are arguably the bigger hazard).  It is however definitely "down by the Molonglo".

So why wasn't that megablaze on the NSW RFS page?  I can only assume because it was in the ACT not NSW and the two organisations don't share information.

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