Inferno on Black Friday 1939

Those who don’t know history…

On Black Friday 1939, on a day of high wind and savage 45 degree heat (110 Fahrenheit) many separate fires joined forces in Victoria to make mass conflagrations, one of which burned most of the western flanks of the Snowy Mountains all the way to New South Wales. In the end the conflagration burned through two million hectares, 3,700 buildings, 69 mills and killed 71 people. Five towns were completely destroyed –  never to be rebuilt. At the time, the atmospheric content of carbon dioxide was 310ppm and 90% of all human emissions were yet to be made. Climate Change has nothing to do with it.

Read more on Jo Nova’s blog:

Bushfires are Nothing New

The following is an excerpt from Jennifer Marohasy’s blog:

The historical evidence indicates fires have burnt very large areas before, and it has been hotter.

Some of the catastrophe has been compounded by our refusal to prepare appropriately. Expert Dr Christine Finlay explains the importance of properly managing the ever increasing fire loads in an article in The Australian. While there is an increase in the area of national park with Eucalyptus forests, there has been a reduction in the area of hazard reduction burning.

The situation is perhaps also made worse by fiddling with the historical temperature record. This will affect the capacity of those modelling bushfire behaviour to obtain an accurate forecast. Continue reading “Bushfires are Nothing New”

Bushfire Management: Wisdom versus Folly

Originally published:

By Roger Underwood

Many years ago, still a young man, I watched for the first time the grainy, flickering black & white film of the British infantry making their attack on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme. The terrible footage shows the disciplined soldiers climbing from their trenches and, in line abreast, walking slowly across no-man’s land towards the enemy lines. They scarcely travel a few paces before the German machine gunners open up. They are mown down in their thousands. They are chaff before a wind of fire.

I can still remember being struck nerveless by these images, & later my anger when I realised what that calamitous carnage represented. It spoke of the deep incompetence of the generals who devised this strategy of doom & then insisted upon its implementation. It spoke of front-line men led by people without front-line experience. It spoke of battle planners unable to think through the consequences of their plans, & who devalued human lives. It spoke of a devastating failure of the human imagination.

Worst of all, the strategies of the World War I generals demonstrated that they had not studied, or that they had forgotten, the lessons of history. In the final year of the American Civil war, 50 years earlier, the Union army had been equipped for the first time with Springfield repeating rifles, replacing the single-shot arms still were being used by the Confederate army. The impact on Confederate soldiers attacking defenders armed with repeating rifles was identical to that later inflicted by machine guns on the Western Front. But it was a lesson unlearnt, of collective wisdom unregarded.

None of you will have any difficulty in seeing where this analogy is taking me.

The catastrophic bushfires of 2009 in Victoria, & the other great fires of recent years in that state, New South Wales, the ACT & South Australia are dramatic expressions not just of killing forces unleashed, but of human folly. No less than the foolish strategies of the World War 1 generals, these bushfires & their outcomes speak of incompetent leadership & of failed imaginations. Most unforgivable of all, they demonstrate the inability of people in powerful & influential positions to profit from the lessons of history & to heed the wisdom of experience.

Read the full document: [PDF, 384 KB]

Fighting Fires with Fire

By Viv Forbes

The Power of the Torch
“There can be few if any races who for so long were able to practice the delights of incendiarism.” – Geoffrey Blainey “Triumph of the Nomads – A History of Ancient Australia.” Macmillan 1975.

The Fire-lighter was the most powerful tool that early humans brought to Australia.

Fires lit by aboriginal men and women created the landscape of Australia. They used fire to create and fertilise fresh new grass for the grazing animals that they hunted, to trap and roast grass dwelling reptiles and rodents, to fight enemies, to send smoke signals, to fell dead trees for camp fires, to ward off frosts and biting insects, and for religious and cultural ceremonies. Their fires created and maintained grasslands and open forests and extinguished all flora and fauna unable to cope with frequent burn-offs. Continue reading “Fighting Fires with Fire”

More Water Bombers? No – Fight Fire with Fire.

By Viv Forbes

(Background: Australian Government promises A$11M for more flashy water bombers.)

In a furious firestorm with high winds, extreme temperature and big loads of dry fuel, water bombing is usually just wasting water and avgas. In hot winds, water will evaporate quickly, embers will start glowing and blowing, and soon the fire will be raging again.

And with few dams getting built, and much stored water released to irrigate the oceans, where will they get the water? Too often they will steal it from private dams, leaving even prudent landowners with inadequate water in a drought.

Water can extinguish house fires, and protect homes and towns, but is useless for raging forest fires. The only solution here is to fight fire with fire – back burning from the wide cleared tracks which should protect every park, forest and property.

Backburning with Fire-Lighters. Source:

Continue reading “More Water Bombers? No – Fight Fire with Fire.”

Where were the “fire chiefs” when this bushfire epidemic was incubating?

By Roger Underwood

The sudden outcry in the media from “fire chiefs”, asserting that the current bushfire crisis is the result of climate change, begs an embarrassing question. Embarrassing for the “fire chiefs” that is.

“Where were you when the root cause of this crisis was being laid down in the bush over the last 20 years, while you were in charge?” Continue reading “Where were the “fire chiefs” when this bushfire epidemic was incubating?”

Bushfires in National Parks – the Peregian Fires

By John Mikkelsen, Noosa

The Noosa Mayor Tony Wellington blames “climate change” for the spate of fire emergencies recently facing our area and other parts of Queensland and New South Wales. (Courier Mail, November 18).

Cr Wellington makes no mention of the fact a number of the fires have been deliberately lit, or that climate change did not provide fire bugs with matches or cigarette lighters. Continue reading “Bushfires in National Parks – the Peregian Fires”