We’ve featured multiple stories and updates on the heartbreaking bushfire season unfolding in the Eastern and Southeastern Australia this winter. Among the many stories that have come out of the tragic circumstances has been the bushfires’ impact on the Koala population. RedZone decided to dive deeper into where the Koalas reside and take a look at how much of their habitat has been impacted the last few months. Unfortunately, the findings are largely concerning for the future of Koala’s across Australia.
Despite the trend of unprecedented wildfire destruction and the predictions for another above average potential for significant wildfire activity, the 2019 wildfire season was significantly less destructive. 2018 recorded over 49,000 fires for a total acreage of just of 4.5 million. The total acreage burned was almost half that of the previous 2 years and short of the 10 year average by more than 2 million acres.
The Bushfires in New South Wales (NSW), Australia are still burning. Officials have declared a state of emergency for the third time for NSW this fire season. The majority of the state is under a high to a very high fire danger rating with catastrophic conditions. There have been seventeen deaths reported across Australia, with most of them being in NSW. The bushfires have destroyed over 900 houses and 2,000 outbuildings.
Yet another winter storm is slated to send more rain to Southern California this week and we at RedZone think it warrants a little inside info on the risks of post-fire debris flows. Winter rains mean a higher potential for land-moving rainfall rates in areas where fires have scorched the landscape. After 2018’s tragic events that occurred in the Thomas fire burn scar, officials have not taken the potential of these continued storms lightly. Last winter, residents were evacuated near the Holy, Thomas, Cranston, Napa/Sonoma, and Woolsey fires (all burn scars from the last couple years).
The New Zealand island volcano that erupted on December 9th has claimed at least 8 lives and injured dozens more. “Whakaari,” the volcano’s name in the Maori language, continues to vent steam and mud, and experts warn that another eruption is possible. These hazardous conditions are hampering efforts to recover victims. As many as 47 tourists were on the island at the time of the eruption, some of whom are still unaccounted for.
“Whakaari,” is New Zealand’s largest and most active cone volcano, making it a popular tourist destination. Numerous tour companies, guide trips to the island which offer a chance to get close to an active volcano. New Zealand is on the southwest part of the Pacific Rim and is an active area of tectonic activity.
Over 365,000 acres have burned along the eastern coast of Australia in the New South Wale (NSW), the country’s most populous state. As a result, officials declared a state of emergency for the entire state, as conditions have reached “catastrophic”, the nation’s highest bushfire danger rating. Tragically, three people have died while over 150 structures have been destroyed. Even worse, included in those destroyed was a wildlife sanctuary near Port Macquarie, which was home to as many as 350 koalas.
Just sixteen miles south of last week’s Saddleridge Fire, the Palisades Fire burned 40 acres between Palisades Dr and Charmel Ln in steep terrain yesterday afternoon, quickly spreading and prompting evacuations of a neighborhood of Pacific Palisades. Fortunately, hard work from air and ground crews saved the 200 homes that were threatened from damage or destruction and all have since been repopulated. This morning’s incident briefing portrayed a mop-up and perimeter-control day ahead of the crews. A direct ground attack is the main plan for the two divisions, with dozer(s) cleared to improve a nearby fire road, and an Structure Protection Group working the previously evacuated neighborhoods.
A fast-growing, wind-driven fire sparked near Yarnell Road off Interstate 210 just north of Sylmar in northern Los Angeles around 2100 PST Thursday night. By late Thursday it was less than 100 acres burning parallel to the 210 Freeway. Overnight, the fire grew to more than 4,000 acres jumping both the I-5 and I-210, burning into neighborhoods. The western branch of the fire got established near the I-5 and began burning westerly through medium to heavy brush threatening thousands of homes in the Porter Ranch and Granada Hills areas. The original fire or eastern branch has backed upslope with topography and is growing to the north and east above Sylmar. At least 25 homes were damaged reported in the morning press conference. 1,000 firefighters are working the fire, along with numerous helicopters and air resources. Additional resources will be implemented with the daylight, including 2 super scoopers. Angeles National Forest officials are in a unified command with Los Angeles City and Los Angeles County fire departments.
Below are summaries from the National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook, provided by the National Interagency Fire Center, for the period of October 2019 through January 2020. The full outlook can be located here which will give more in depth picture of US fire weather projection.