There have been over 300 bushfires in Kimberley, Australia recently, which is the worst fire season the region has experienced in more than a decade, as reported by abc.net.au.
This year has been an extremely hectic year for Firefighters, with over 300 bushfires in the Kimberley region alone. It is thought they have been caused partly due to the large wet season rains and the increased fuel loads. These, authorities say, helped create the perfect environment from the fires, while they also say a percentage of fires were intentionally started.
A recent fire in the region, resulted in the destruction of over 3 million hectares of land and authorities say this was started by an arsonist. They also say the four “fire whirls” which burnt almost half a million hectares on Leopold Down were the result of other fires started intentionally. The whirls were described as being 300 metres high.
The recent record-breaking wet weather in the country and unseasonal rain have left an excessive amount of burnable materials across the north of the country. Haydn Sale, a local cattle station owner, said this is the worst fire season he has ever seen. Mr. Sale and his team have been battling the blazes on three of his properties, for over a month.
"It's been a big fire season this year, the biggest I've ever seen...We've been here for 10 years now, it's dwarfed anything else,” he said.
“We actually got some rain in the second half of the year which was great for the cattle but it meant we didn't get a lot of controlled burning done and now we've got massive fires” he added.
Haydn said all farmers in the region can hope for, is a decent fall of rain in the next few weeks.
“We're just trying to keep it out of the rivers and keep it away from the station infrastructure as best we can," he said.
“But outside of that there's not a lot you can do unless you get a few storms or it burns itself out.” he stated.
"We've got enough feed that the cattle will mongrel on until we get a storm hopefully but if it hasn't rained by January, we'll certainly be in a bit of bother," he concluded.
This increased number of fires in Kimberley was predicted by the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative earlier in the year, in what looks to be an estimate which is right on the money.
Picture courtesy of ABC.net.au
Double 2016 numbers:
The Superintendent of DFES Kimberley, Grant Pipe, said his teams have already attended more than double the number of fires than they did in 2016.
"A number of our pastoralists have experienced some significant fires on their stations, which is no doubt disappointing for them as it is for us," said Mr. Pipe.
"A lot of those fires were generally burning in inaccessible terrain, which makes it very difficult to get machinery and firefighters in there....It relies on that early season preparation that the pastoralists generally do; building mineral earth breaks or doing that full season burning just to reduce those fuel loads." he added.
Mr. Pipe also spoke of his concern at the dramatic increase in fires started intentionally. He said they will work closely with local Police, to try and combat the epidemic. He also took time to commend volunteers, for helping deal with these incidents.
"Arson still continues to be a significant issue for us in the region, particularly in Fitzroy Crossing, Kununurra and Broome we have seen a spike in arson activity...We work closely with WA police and receive great support from them in trying to bring these people to justice,” he said.
"That's kept firefighters very busy and again we acknowledge the support of our volunteers and that of the employers who release them on a daily basis to attend incidents," he stated.
The Wet season kicked off last week, meaning firefighters may get a break soon. But Superintendent Pipe warned people against becoming complacent, suggesting the battle is only just begun.
"Obviously we're coming towards the end of the fire season but we're not there yet," he said.
Mr. Pipe said the bushfires will remain a problem until the region sees large spells of rain. He did though look to reassure the public, that they are well equipped to continue their efforts and restore normality to the region.
“Until we receive those large drenching rains right across the region, we are still going to be dealing with the threat of fire….But on the back of us being an above average fire season, we are geared up right across the region with additional appliances, ensuring that we're in the best case to protect and support the community during the bushfire season." he concluded.
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