Having had a bit of a look at the areas burnt in the flora reserve and toward Tathra, a surprising outcome is the relatively small areas where tree canopies burned. As indicated in the satellite image below, leaves in the tree canopies have been scorched, but not consumed by the fire. In essence the outcome is much like a hot fuel reduction burn.
The big difference between this fire and a canopy fire is the flame height and the temperature it creates both within and in front of the fire. Typically, a crown fire can heat the air at the front of the flames to 800 °C (1,470 °F). Attempting to fight a fire under these conditions is impossible, so it seems fire fighters and local residents saved most of the town because it wasn’t too hot or too windy.
Had the weather conditions been more extreme, as with the Black Saturday fires, back in 2009, it seems likely that more houses would have been destroyed and lives lost. The houses that were destroyed were all built prior to the bush fires codes introduced in 2009. None of the houses built after the new codes were destroyed.
There is still no talk about the fate of koalas in the area, although it seems unlikely any animals survived in the burned areas. A bulldozer and chainsaws have been used to push over or cut down dozens of trees deemed ‘dangerous’, in the flora reserve. Not surprisingly most of these were large mature trees.
As reported in the Eden Magnet last week, Forestry Corporation and the Eden Aboriginal Land Council planned a ” . . . contemporary cultural burn using traditional fire practices at East Boyd State Forest near Eden . . . The cultural burn will begin on Wednesday, April 4 with a traditional ceremony and continue for several days, with the aim of improving forest health and access to country for cultural purposes.”
The arrangement is clearly a big deal for Forestry, with a member of its Aboriginal Partnerships team, the Strategic Projects and Programs Leader and Forestry Corporation’s south coast Protection Supervisor, Julian Armstrong, all having a say.
According to Julian “For safe hazard reduction burns, we need to act when it’s not too hot and dry or too cool and damp and when the wind isn’t too strong.” While the issue of dryness appears to be a lower priority, the article suggests updates on the 750 hectare burn would be available on the RFS – ‘Fires near me’ website’.
The fire was on the website for two days and then disappeared, so either it burned the area very quickly or was postponed.