From tragedy - fire insights for other communities

Some of Australia’s leading bushfire scientists have arrived on the Eyre Peninsula to study last week’s tragic blaze.

Their main focus is on fire behaviour, property damage and the contentious ‘stay or go’ issue. They will also produce a post-fire report which may be used in the ongoing investigation into the cause and ferocity of the fire.

Chief Executive Officer of the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) Kevin O’Loughlin said the tragedy may eventually have benefits for other threatened communities.

Mr O’Loughlin said the need to gather information from the scene early is vital to understand fire behaviour.

“SA Country Fire Service Chief Officer Euan Ferguson has been in touch with the CRC on the night the fire broke out to seek expertise with data gathering on the ground,” Mr O’Loughlin said.

“It’s important to get access to the scene early to not only gather factual data, but to gain an understanding from this tragedy in terms of the speed and behaviour of such a destructive and intense fire.

“Three of the Bushfire CRC’s main research areas now have experts on the Eyre Peninsula.

“Jim Gould of the CSIRO’s Fire Behaviour and Management Team is examining the fire behaviour, especially the rate of spread.

“Justin Leonard also of CSIRO is examining how property damage occurred and why the fire affected some properties and not others. A team from Geoscience Australia is also assisting him, using state of the art techniques used after the Canberra fires to precisely map the areas damaged.

“Alan Rhodes of the Victorian CFA and a part time researcher at RMIT University is looking at the community behaviour and understanding on the issue of deciding whether to ‘stay or go,” Mr O’Loughlin said.

The Bushfire CRC is a collaborative venture involving State fire and land management agencies, eight universities, CSIRO, federal government agencies including the Bureau of Meteorology, Emergency Management Australia and the Australian Building Codes Board, and New Zealand fire and forest research agencies in a seven year $100m multi-disciplinary research program.

For further information contact: Kevin O’Loughlin 0418 101602

Release date

Mon, 17/01/2005