Bushfires in Australia are very common, they don't always end in a
catastrophe like the one in Victoria on Black Saturday 2009, or Ash
Wednesday 1983 in South Australia. The dry and hot Australian climate
during summers, accompanied by hot winds, nurture wildfires that get out
of control sometimes.
Therefore it is important and life-saving, for residents and travellers alike, to be prepared for bushfires, obey all warnings and be careful and responsible, not only on days of extreme fire danger.
The different fire seasons reflect the varied weather patterns throughout Australia.
Australia's hot and dry climate contributes to severe fire events. The danger for wildfires increases with low humidity, strong winds and high temperatures.
Winter and spring (June to December) is the bushfire season in the tropical north. This is the "dry" season, and even in winter it can be very hot during the days.
The Australian centre has its fire season in spring and summer (September to March).
Finally, the fire season along the south & east coasts and Tasmania is from summer to autumn (December to April).
Bushfires have shaped the Australian environment, with many fire-adapted plant species that manage to survive a blaze.
Actually, bushfires often have benefit to plants and scrubs. Many native species in Australia need the heat of a fire to make their seeds germinate.
Aborigines used controlled fires for land management, to burn dry grasses and scrubs, and support fresh growth.
It has been a subject of discussion for many years, whether or not controlled fires should clear undergrowths in the woods to prevent serious bushfire blasts.
Grass fires are moving fast with medium heat. They can be up to
three times faster than other bushfires. After years of flooding,
grasses grow very high, and cover huge areas in Australia. Good for
cattle and sheep. However, when the grasses dry out in the hot summers,
the risk of severe grass fires is very high.
Bushfires usually move slower, but have a high intensity and smoulder for days. If the top of eucalyptus trees catch fire, the fire can move much faster, yet, it might really explode!
Unfortunately, especially around the fringe of the cities, wildfires out of control end up in a disaster every couple of years.
Usually, the bigger animals like kangaroos, koalas, goannas and lizards
escape into the opposite direction when they smell smoke.
However, if a bushfire blasts, and the fire comes from several directions, it is hard to escape for animals and men.
A major bushfire destroys much of the flora, so animals have to move from their territories to other areas in order to find food.
The severe bushfires in Victoria (2009) have certainly killed a lot of wildlife. Many animals escaped with injuries and were taken to wildlife shelters.
The story of a koala that was found by a fire fighter and rescued went around the world. The fire fighters named the koala Sam. He drank three bottles of water, so parched was he. Unfortunately, Sam died from an infection a couple of months later.
Low humidity, strong winds and high temperatures parch the land and the flora.
Lightning, careless people, and arsonists are the main factors that trigger bushfires in Australia.
Many Australian native plants, especially eucalyptus trees and bushes contain oils that make the plants burn easily in dry conditions. In a fire they really "explode"!
Most Australian states have a fire restriction season during the hot summer months, usually from November 1st until the end of March. Open fires are only allowed under certain conditions during this time.
On days of total fire ban any fires outside are prohibited.
You can get more information about the fire restrictions and total fire bans from local newspapers, radio and the fire authorities.
You'll also see the fire danger signs along highways and in Outback towns.
It is scary to think about this, and it is also hard to believe, but
you can survive a fast-moving fire in your car, or a house, provided you
The South Australian Country Fire Service has published useful information on their website. They explain things you should know in detail, and much better than I ever could.
Prepare, Act, Survive is the slogan to survive bushfires in Australia.
It is a tragedy when huge areas of bush burn down in a fire, and wildlife gets killed. However, it is even worse when the fires reach settlements and the cities, and humans suffer, losing their houses and even their lives.
This can happen around all major cities in Australia. It is essential to seek information from your local fire services, and have a emergency plan in case a bushfire strikes in your area.
The beautiful Adelaide Hills are prone to bushfires, thankfully, it doesn't end as disastrous as the "Ash Wednesday" fires in 1983.
The new year (2015) started with a major threat for people living in the Adelaide Hills.
High temperatures & hot winds increased the fire danger. An out-of-control fire burnt in the Mount Lofty Ranges. Homes and lives were threatened in the Sampson Flat area.
I can tell you, driving down the free-way into Adelaide to spend
Christmas with your family in the Hills, and the indicator
boards don't mention traffic jams but only warnings about the high fire
danger, makes you feel a bit worried.